September 25, 2017

Statement of Senator Chris Van Hollen on the Nomination of Noel J. Francisco

Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) released the following statement on his opposition to the nomination of Noel J. Franciso for the position of Solicitor General of the United States.

"Mr. President, I cannot support Noel Francisco's nomination to serve as the 47th Solicitor General of the United States. I do not believe Mr. Francisco can serve as a check on this administration and this President.

"Created in 1870 and colloquially referred to as the "10th Supreme Court Justice," the Solicitor General represents the United States government before the Supreme Court. The Solicitor General culls through thousands of cases a year and selects which cases the Department of Justice will appeal. Although the Solicitor General is the third-highest-ranked office in the Department of Justice, it is the Solicitor General alone who selects and approves every appeal. This heavy responsibility requires that the Solicitor General use sound legal judgment and resist pressure from and maintain independence from the President and Cabinet-level members.

"History contains examples of Solicitors General who deferred to the President while constructing legal strategy and Presidents who were directly involved with shaping legal arguments. President Eisenhower personally wrote handwritten notes on his Solicitor General's briefs before they were submitted to the Supreme Court. President Eisenhower's notes softened the Solicitor General's tone regarding the expediency of desegregation after the seminal Supreme Court decision of Brown v. Board of Education.

"At this unique time in history, we cannot have a Solicitor General who will serve as a rubber stamp for this Administration's policies. President Trump has shown a disregard and contempt for not only the rule of law but also for our Constitutional separation of powers.

"Frederick William Lehmann, Solicitor General during the Taft Administration said that "the Government wins its point when justice is done in its courts." As acting-Solicitor General, Mr. Francisco defended the President's travel ban before the Ninth Circuit in which he argued that Presidential authority regarding immigration is "largely immune from judicial control."

"Mr. Francisco's lead in defending President Trump's Executive orders are deeply concerning. We need a Solicitor General that can say no to the President and resist positions advocated by the Administrations hardliners when they fall outside of defensible legal boundaries. I do not believe Mr. Francisco can act as an independent check and I cannot support his nomination."