The Senate has confirmed President Donald Trump’s pick for solicitor general, Noel Francisco. The vote on Tuesday was largely split, with 50 voting in favor and 47 opposed.
The solicitor general is the top legal advocate for the government, arguing cases before the Supreme Court. But the attorney general can also add the solicitor general to the line of succession at the top of the Department of Justice.
Francisco served as associate counsel to President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2003. Francisco served as deputy solicitor general and acting solicitor general after President Donald Trump took office.
Francisco’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing in May, it seems unlikely that he would carry out an order he did not believe was justified. “One of the things that makes this country great is that we have a government that is bound by the constitution,” he told the committee, “and just as importantly, a separation of powers that is able to enforce that.”
Francisco is an expert at the Federalist Society, a group of conservative and libertarians in the legal world. The executive vice president, Leonard Leo, is said to have secured the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court’s term opens Oct. 2 and Francisco will find a busy docket awaits him. The Office of Solicitor General has already participated in more than two-thirds of the cases the court has agreed to hear.
Most notably, the court will hear argument Oct. 10 in a challenge to Trump’s travel ban, which temporarily limits immigration from six Muslim-majority countries.
Jonathan Turley, law professor at George Washington University, said the confirmation will also bring needed relief to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has been leading the Justice Department with “a truly skeleton staff.” Mr. Francisco will now be able to help shape courtroom strategy for the department. “From amnesty cities to DACA to travel bans to transgender bans, the Trump administration faces defining moments before the court. It needs a solicitor general at the helm that supports its policies and priorities,” Mr. Turley said.
Some lawmakers praised the confirmation on Tuesday. “Pleased to see Noel Francisco confirmed as US Solicitor General,” tweeted Senator Ted Cruz, who once worked with Francisco at the law firm Cooper & Kirk. “He’s a brilliant lawyer & a principled conservative.”