Last week, I mentioned that the pick of Solicitor General would be on par with the pick for Attorney General in its importance. Not many people can name who the Solicitor General is, but keep this fact in mind: Five Solicitor Generals, including current Justice Elena Kagan, have become Supreme Court Justices since the office was established in 1870. Two members of the current Supreme Court, Sam Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts, worked in that office.
Relations between the Solicitor General’s office and the Supreme Court can get very cozy. The Solicitor General will argue as many as nine cases a year, while others in the office easily rack up as many as five cases a year. Most lawyers never even get the chance to appear before the Supreme Court.
The Solicitor General is often called “the Tenth Justice.” The short version: This office specializes in handling the federal government’s appeals when they lose a case at District Court. They also can get the court to take a case – or not take it. In other words, this office could very well decide the fate of a case that could have massive implications on your Second Amendment rights.
One such case is bubbling upwards. Earlier this year, a district judge threw out sweeping gun laws in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Had Hillary Clinton been elected, we could very well have seen a Solicitor General weigh in on that case, not only urging that the district court’s rulings be overturned, but possibly even the Heller case as well. Hillary Clinton repeatedly criticized the ruling, which tossed out Washington, D.C.’s handgun ban on the basis that the Second Amendment protected an individual right to keep and bear arms.
Another case where who the Solicitor General is could matter is a recent challenge to a New York law banning stun guns on Second Amendment grounds. Here, the Solicitor General’s intervention could lead to not only tossing out that law, but also laying the foundation to take out other laws that infringe on our Second Amendment rights.
Who might President-elect Donald Trump choose to fill this post? We really don’t know. The good news is that his choice of Jeff Sessions to be Attorney General means that it is very likely we could get a very strong voice for our Second Amendment rights.