Document Type

Conference Proceeding


In Search of the Solicitor General’s Clients: A Drama with Many Characters, 83 Kentucky Law Journal 485 (1994-95)


The Office of Solicitor General was established in 1870 to provide the Attorney General with assistance in discharging his or her official duties. Over the intervening 124 years, however, a tradition of independence, both within the Department of Justice and the Executive Branch as a whole, developed with respect to the Solicitor General's role. Although the Solicitor General is appointed by the President and works for the Attorney General, it is rare for his decisions to be overruled by either of his superiors. Consequently, for most purposes, the Solicitor General has the last word with respect to whether, and on what grounds, the United States will seek review in the Supreme Court, and he detemrines what cases from the federal trial courts the government will seek to reverse on appeal. In this process, the Solicitor General is not a ''hired gun." To be sure, he is not a policy-maker in the sense that other presidential appointees at the cabinet and sub-cabinet levels are. But in the course of acting as a legal policy-maker regarding governmental litigation, the Solicitor General not only advises his colleagues as to means to achieve certain ends but also helps them to clarify ends in light of the wisdom that is often gained from court challenges to federal policies

Date of Authorship for this Version


Included in

Law Commons