May 11, 2010
In what is news to none of you, Solicitor General Elena Kagan is President Obama’s newest Supreme Court nominee. Upon mention of her current position, I was forced to make a somewhat embarrassing admission to myself: I’m not completely sure what the Solicitor General does.
I decided to find out. I broke my curiosity down into two questions:
- How and when did the office originate?
- What are the duties of the Solicitor General?
I got my answers, and here’s how I did it. I started at the Solicitor General’s website, linked above, and spent just enough time there to discover a reference to the “Statutory Authorization Act of June 22, 1870,” at 16 Stat. 162. I found that citation on Westlaw, and discovered the act that created the office—the same act that created the Department of Justice. We’re halfway there.
Moving on, I remembered seeing a reference to the Code of Federal Regulations on the Solicitor General’s site, so I ran the following query in the CFR database: PR,CA(“SOLICITOR GENERAL”). The search returned three results, and in them I found the answer to my second question. I won’t completely spoil it for you, but among the duties listed in 28 C.F.R. § 0.20 is
“[c]onducting, or assigning and supervising, all Supreme Court cases, including appeals, petitions for and in opposition to certiorari, briefs and arguments[.]”
To find Supreme Court cases argued by Elena Kagan, try:
For Oral Arguments, try:
Results: 6, Kagan Opened her argument in Citizen United this way:
I have three very quick points to make about the government position. The first is that this issue has a long history. For over 100 years Congress has made a judgment that corporations must be subject to special rules when they participate in elections and this Court has never questioned that judgment…