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Elizabeth Prelogar Picked by Biden to Be Solicitor General (1)

Aug. 11, 2021, 1:03 AM

President Joe Biden will nominate acting Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar to take the job on a permanent basis, elevating a former clerk for two Supreme Court justices to lead federal litigation before the high court, according to a White House official.

If confirmed by the Senate, the Harvard Law School graduate would become just the second woman to hold the job. The president’s intention to nominate her was confirmed by a White House official who requested anonymity to discuss the decision before it was formally announced.

Prelogar, who worked for both Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan -- the first female solicitor general -- and former Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, is likely to have a demanding job, defending the president’s initiatives at a court that now has a 6-3 conservative majority.

The solicitor general represents the federal government at the Supreme Court, typically after seeking input from affected departments and agencies. The solicitor general also supervises government litigation through the federal court system, setting strategy and deciding whether to press appeals.

As acting solicitor general, Prelogar has eased the government away from a number of positions taken by the Trump administration, prompting the court to dismiss cases over asylum rules, the Mexican border and federal grants to so-called sanctuary cities.

At the same time, her positions on have occasionally disappointed progressives, as when the Biden administration argued against green-card eligibility for people who entered the country illegally but not have temporary legal status because their home countries are in crisis.

Prelogar has argued nine Supreme Court cases, including two as acting solicitor general. In March, she urged the court to back an antitrust suit against the National Collegiate Athletic Association and allow universities to give more compensation to student-athletes.

VIDEO: We asked Elizabeth Prelogar and some of her fellow former Ruth Bader Ginsburg law clerks what it was like to work for the Notorious R.B.G.

In April, she took a middle ground in a case over a California requirement that charities disclose their largest donors in reports filed with the state. The Trump administration had opposed the rule before Prelogar shifted the government’s position.

Before becoming acting solicitor general, Prelogar worked on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election meddling. She was also Washington appellate lawyer at Cooley LLP and previously served as an assistant in the solicitor general’s office. And in addition to clerking for Kagan and Ginsburg, she completed a clerkship for Attorney General Merrick Garland when he served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

The nomination was reported earlier by the Associated Press.

Presidents at times have used the solicitor general position as a stepping stone. In addition to Kagan, Thurgood Marshall served as solicitor general before being nominated to the Supreme Court.

The solicitor general, whom federal law requires to be “learned in the law,” oversees an office of about 20 attorneys at the Justice Department.

To contact the reporters on this story:
Greg Stohr in Washington at;
Justin Sink in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Elizabeth Wasserman at

Peter Blumberg

© 2021 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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