The solicitor general has been nicknamed the “10th justice” because of the amount of time he spends before the Supreme Court and the frequent interactions between staffs of both the court and the solicitor’s office. As a result of the time spent arguing before the highest court in the land, the solicitor general is considered to be among the most influential and knowledgeable people about the Supreme Court and constitutional law, other than the justices themselves. Many in the legal world consider the solicitor general to be the highest office that a practicing trial lawyer can attain in the United States—even higher than the Attorney General, which is regarded more as a political job.
Gun Battle at the White House? (by Robert D. Novak, Washington Post)
Profile of a right-wing conspirator (by Martin McLaughlin, World Socialist)
Donald B. Verrilli Jr.’s selection to succeed Elena Kagan as solicitor general was considered a surprise by some Washington insiders who believed the job would go to Neal Katyal, the acting solicitor general. The White House announced Verrilli’s nomination on January 24, 2011. The solicitor general is in charge of arguing the positions of the U.S. government before the Supreme Court.
Elena Kagan, the first woman to serve as solicitor general, was sworn in on March 20, 2009. She brings with her a reputation for defending civil liberties while also asserting the power of the presidency. Her nomination stirred mild controversy because the solicitor general represents the U.S. government before the Supreme Court and appeals courts, and Kagan has never argued a case before the Supreme Court.