The Next Solicitor General?

The White House is poised to name Don Verrilli, an associate White House counsel, is the leading candidate to replace solicitor general after Elena Kagan is confirmed to the Supreme Court. Verrilli joined the Obama administration as an associate deputy attorney general, where he helped his close friend, Attorney General Eric Holder, craft the Justice Department's new state secrets doctrine guidelines. 

A few months ago, new White House counsel Robert Bauer asked him to move a few blocks down Pennsylvania Avenue to fill an associate White House counsel's position, theoretically a demotion for such an experienced litigator.


But Verrilli knew he was paying a transient occupancy tax: the White House needed a better relationship with the Justice Department, and Verrillii, a low-key, get-along guy, was just the ticket. Verrilli spent years at Jenner and Block in Washington, representing a diverse array of clients. Copyright law is one of his specialities; he's known as the "guy who killed Grokster" on behalf of Viacom. Verrillii has argued frequently before the Supreme Court.

Why not Neal Katyal, the deputy solicitor general? Sources say that no one questions his brilliance, but his relationship with colleagues hasn't always been smooth. (Update: I screwed the pooch on this one. Katyal gets along with his Justice Department colleagues just fine. And I never should have allowed "sources" to anonymously trash someone)

Verrillii's trial balloon appointment as SG will be viewed suspiciously by civil libertarians for his authorial role in the state secrets drama and for his record of fighting on behalf of industry against tech entrepreneurs. But he's got the trust of Holder, Bauer, and President Obama.

"Conversations about a replacement haven't even begun," a White House spokesperson said. 
Presented by

Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

Never Tell People How Old They Look

Age discrimination affects us all. Who cares about youth? James Hamblin turns to his colleague Jeffrey Goldberg for advice.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Never Tell People How Old They Look

Age discrimination affects us all. James Hamblin turns to a colleague for advice.

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

Video

Pittsburgh: 'Better Than You Thought'

How Steel City became a bikeable, walkable paradise

Video

A Four-Dimensional Tour of Boston

In this groundbreaking video, time moves at multiple speeds within a single frame.

Video

Who Made Pop Music So Repetitive? You Did.

If pop music is too homogenous, that's because listeners want it that way.

More in Politics

Just In