Monday, July 04, 2016

U.S. SOLICITOR GENERAL - Donald Verrilli

"Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, who beat back legal challenges to Obamacare, steps down" PBS NewsHour 6/28/2016


SUMMARY:  As the Supreme Court wraps up a very busy term, there’s a familiar face who won’t be returning to argue cases before the court next fall.  Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, the Obama administration’s top lawyer who defended Obamacare and argued for immigration reform, sat down recently with Judy Woodruff for an exit interview.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Don Verrilli, thank you very much for talking with us.

DONALD VERRILLI, Outgoing Solicitor General:  Thank you, Judy.  It’s great to be here.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  So you have been the Solicitor General for the past five years for a Democratic administration arguing cases before a majority conservative Supreme Court.  How do you think it’s gone, on balance?

DONALD VERRILLI:  Well, on balance, pretty well.  We have won some, we have lost some, but I think we have won most of the big, important cases, health care, marriage equality.

I think on most of the cases that really matter as an historical — from an historical perspective, we have done pretty well.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  So you would argue the administration has done better than the conservative point of view?

DONALD VERRILLI:  Well, I guess what I would say about that is that we managed to persuade a court, a majority of whose members, before Justice Scalia passed away, you would say are conservative, that we had the right answer on the law on the big cases.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Well, just last week, the justices handed down a decision on the President’s immigration plan, which you argued.

It’s being seen as dealing a pretty significant blow to this President’s legacy.  How do you see what happens going forward on immigration after that decision?


So, about the decision itself, you know, whether one agrees with the position of the administration or whether one disagrees with the position, I think probably everybody would agree that it isn’t ideal to have that question left in limbo with a 4-4 tie, affirming a divided vote of a lower court.

I don’t think anybody thinks that’s an ideal outcome here.  And what that I means, I think, is that the legal question remains open for the future about the President’s authority, and then the question as a policy matter about what we’re going to do about the significant problem that the — this policy was trying to address, what we’re going to do about that remains open for the future.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  So many unresolved questions.

DONALD VERRILLI:  Yes.  I think very little was resolved by this.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  And we know there was another important ruling the court handed down last week on affirmative action, another case you argued.

Were you surprised by Justice Kennedy, the majority opinion essentially in favor of using race as some consideration in college admissions?

DONALD VERRILLI:  Well, we were very pleased that the court, Justice Kennedy’s opinion for the court, accepted the argument that we put forward on behalf of the United States and accepted the argument that the University of Texas put forward.

And I think I was a little bit surprised that it was as definitive as a victory as it was.  I had thought there was some chance that the case might be sent back to the lower courts for more factual development, but it was a definitive victory.

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