Solicitor General (U.S.)

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In the United States legal system, the Solicitor General is the third-ranking official in the United States Department of Justice, responsible for the Executive Branch arguments made to the Supreme Court of the United States. Solicitors General may actually argue cases, or delegate that to staff specialists whom she or he supervise.

Prior to her appointment to the Court, Elena Kagan was the incumbent in the Obama administration. Incumbents are normally expert in appellate and constitutional law, although they are typically also sympathetic to the policies of a particular Administration.

The Attorney General of the United States, the Deputy, and the Solicitor General are, as well as being political appointees confirmed by the Senate, also considered law enforcement officials. , It is not at all unprecedented that an Attorney General may conclude that a Presidential directive needs to be delayed, interpreted, or even refused. During the Nixon Administration, Attorney General Elliott Richardson resigned rather than carry out an order he believed to be illegal, i.e. Nixon's order to fire a Special Prosecutor (i.e., under the extant Special Prosecutor Act); the Deputy Attorney General,William Ruckelshaus, stepped up and then resigned as well.

Then-Solicitor General Robert Bork had planned to resign as well, but Richardson and Ruckelshaus told him that they had made constitutional and political point, and now someone had to stay to run the Justice Department. Bork was next in the succession and became Acting Attorney General.