Cristian Farias writes about the intersection of law and politics for New York magazine. He is also a writer-in-residence at the Thurgood Marshall Institute of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. (August 2018)
The sole client of the solicitor general, the Department of Justice lawyer who represents the federal government before the Supreme Court, is the United States. With Noel Francisco at the helm, Trump’s solicitor general’s office has—to a far greater extent than its modern predecessors—aggressively changed the government’s litigating positions midstream, staked out extreme stances in pending cases where the government is not even a party, and made extravagant requests of the Supreme Court. And in several cases, the Court has acceded to those requests. Assuming Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed as Justice Kennedy’s replacement, and with a 5-4 conservative majority on the Court all but locked in, Francisco will be in the driving seat to guide a new era of conservative jurisprudence at the high court.