By a vote of 50-47 that broke down almost completely on party lines, the Senate today confirmed Noel Francisco to serve as the solicitor general, the government’s top lawyer in the Supreme Court. Francisco’s confirmation comes less than two weeks before the court’s new term is scheduled to start, with a number of important cases – ranging from the challenge to the Trump administration’s March 6 executive order, often known as the “travel ban,” to a dispute over the right of employees to pursue work-related claims against their employers as a group – on the docket for October.

Even before President Donald Trump nominated him to serve as solicitor general, Francisco was well known in the Washington legal community. A former clerk to the late Justice Antonin Scalia, Francisco served in the George W. Bush administration before going to the Washington office of Jones Day. While at that firm, he argued in the Supreme Court on behalf of (among others) former Virginia governor Robert McDonnell and the Little Sisters of the Poor.

Shortly after Trump’s inauguration, the president named Francisco as the principal deputy solicitor general. Francisco then served as the acting solicitor general until Trump announced that he intended to nominate Francisco as the solicitor general. But because federal law prohibited Francisco from serving as the acting solicitor general once he had been nominated to be the solicitor general, Francisco then moved to another part of the Department of Justice to await his confirmation. Jeffrey Wall has been the acting solicitor general since then, serving as the federal government’s lead lawyer in its defense of the travel ban.

The vote on Francisco was closer than those for some of his predecessors: Donald Verrilli, who served as solicitor general from 2011 to 2016, was confirmed by a vote of 72-16; Elena Kagan, who served from 2009 to 2010, was confirmed by a vote of 61-31; and Gregory Garre, who served from 2008 to 2009, was confirmed unanimously.

This post was originally published at Howe on the Court.

Posted in Featured, What's Happening Now

Recommended Citation: Amy Howe, Francisco confirmed as solicitor general, SCOTUSblog (Sep. 19, 2017, 2:00 PM), http://www.scotusblog.com/2017/09/francisco-confirmed-solicitor-general/