US Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, who represented the Obama administration in many landmark cases before the Supreme Court, is stepping down from his position, the White House said Thursday.
Verrilli is most known for representing the Obama administration in the Supreme Court case that dealt with the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, as well as an unusual challenge to the law’s subsidy provision.
The administration was successful in both cases, which were viewed as potential fatal blows to the law known as Obamacare.
Verrilli, the seventh-longest-serving solicitor general in US history, also argued on behalf of the administration in landmark cases involving same-sex marriage. One of his last major cases, involving President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration, has yet to be decided by the court.
“For five years, Solicitor General Don Verrilli has fought in our nation’s highest court for a better future, winning landmark cases that moved America forward,” Obama said in a Thursday statement announcing Verrilli’s departure.
He added: “Thanks to his efforts, 20 million more Americans now know the security of quality, affordable health care; we’re combatting discrimination so that more women and minorities can own their piece of the American Dream; we’ve reaffirmed our commitment to ensuring that immigrants are treated fairly; and our children will now grow up in a country where everyone has the freedom to marry the person they love.”
Verrilli’s 2012 oral argument before the Supreme Court in the first Obamacare-related case was widely viewed as a disaster. And legal experts told Business Insider afterward that attorney Paul Clement, who represented the challengers, completely “tore apart” his argument. Still, in the end, Obamacare survived on a narrow, 5-4 vote with the surprising help of Chief Justice John Roberts.
Verrilli, in fact, reportedly pushed wary White House officials to argue publicly, in the heat of a reelection campaign, that the healthcare law’s mandate constituted a tax on people without insurance. Roberts ultimately upheld the law’s mandate as constitutional on those grounds.
Verrilli served in the Department of Justice at the beginning of Obama’s term as the Associate US Deputy Attorney General. He subsequently moved onto the White House in 2010 as the deputy counsel to the president. He is highly respected for his legal acumen within the White House. Obama nominated him to the post of Solicitor General in January 2011. He was confirmed by a 72-16 Senate vote.
“Don has been a dedicated public servant who has helped our nation live up to its promise of liberty and justice for all,” Obama said. “I am grateful for his trusted counsel and friendship. And I wish Don and his family all the best in what comes next, including, hopefully, a well-deserved vacation.”
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