Donald B. Verrilli, Jr., who as U.S. Solicitor General for five years led the legal defense in the Supreme Court of some of the Obama administration’s most important policies and programs, will leave office on June 24, according to an announcement Thursday by Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch. Deputy U.S. Solicitor General Ian Gershengorn will serve in the job on an acting basis — presumably for the remainder of the Obama administration.
Verrilli had been a top legal adviser in the administration since early 2009, initially in the Justice Department, then in the White House as a legal aide to President Barack Obama. He moved back to the Justice Department in early 2011, to become Solicitor General to succeed Elena Kagan when she was named a Supreme Court Justice. He took office on June 9, 2011.
The attorney general praised Verrilli as “a brilliant lawyer, a devoted public servant and one of the most consequential Solicitors General in American history.” She cited in particular his work on “groundbreaking cases” such as winning equal marriage rights for gays and lesbians, his successful defense of the Affordable Care Act, and a major victory in an Arizona case against state anti-immigration laws.
His final argument as Solicitor General was in defense of the administration’s major new program of deferring deportation of undocumented immigrants. That case was heard on April 18, and awaits a decision.
Probably his most significant loss in a case he argued before the Court came in Shelby County v. Holder, a 2013 decision that scuttled a key part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and has since given states a kind of legal leeway to enact a series of laws restricting voters’ rights.
Verrilli did not issue his own statement about his plans. Before entering public service, he was in private legal practice.