Solicitor General Noel Francisco announced his intent to resign in a letter sent to President Donald Trump on Wednesday.
Describing his role as the government’s leading lawyer in cases argued before the Supreme Court as the “honor of [his] professional career,” Francisco said he was “deeply grateful” to the 45th president for giving him the opportunity to serve in that capacity.
“With the current Supreme Court term–my third in the job–nearing its end, I have decided it is time for me to return to the private sector and spend more time with my family,” his one-page letter, effective July 3, notes.
A movement conservative through and through, the 50-year-old Francisco has represented the administration in various touchstone legal disputes before the Supreme Court during his tenure. Though the Trump administration’s track record against Democratic Party attorneys general is significantly worse than the Obama administrsation’s record against Republican Party counterparts, Francisco was the top lawyer in high-profile wins for the White House.
Chief among those wins was a victory on the controversial travel ban targeting Muslim-majority countries. Various other hardline immigration policies pushed by the 45th president also earned a seal of approval from the nation’s high court under Francisco’s guidance.
The soon-to-be former solicitor general mused, in positive terms, about his own track record in the brief farewell letter.
“During that time, we have had significant success in advancing the rule of law–including protecting religious liberty, ensuring vigorous enforcement of the Nation’s immigration laws, and safeguarding the executive power that the Constitution confers on the President,” Francisco wrote. “It has been a great honor to advance these objectives alongside the dedicated men and women at the Department of Justice–some of the finest lawyers I have known.”
As noted in an earlier preview of Francisco’s imminent departure, the solicitor general has also been adept at seeking stays from the Supreme Court that neutralize lower court injunctions. The effect has been the continuance of Trump administration policies without an actual assessment of the legal merits. The conservative majority on the Supreme Court has been quite receptive to both entertaining and granting administrative interventions.
Such stays hold for at least as long as those often lengthy legal controversies make their way back to the high court–oftentimes months or even years later–a type of juridical brinkmanship or legalistic shell game from which future administrations will perhaps seek to benefit.
Francisco’s resignation letter also issued a series of ideologically focused plaudits to the president and his agenda viz. the nation’s legal system in more general terms. Francisco congratulated President Trump on the Supreme Court appointments of Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, as well as the Federalist Society-aided appointments of nearly 200 hundred federal judges. He also called Attorney General Bill Barr a “friend” and a “patriot.”
“More generally, I believe we have furthered the principle of limited constitutional government,” the letter said. “Towards that end, your judicial appointments–including the appointment of two Supreme Court justices and almost two hundred federal appellate and district court judges–will redound to the benefit of the nation for many years to come. I am also immensely grateful for the leadership of Attorney General Bill Barr; he is a friend and a patriot who has devoted much of his career to serving this great Nation.”
Read the full letter below:
[image via Mark Wilson/Getty Images]
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