Solicitor General Noel Francisco Leaving Justice Department

June 17, 2020 by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON – U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco, who represented the Trump administration in a series of high profile Supreme Court cases, is leaving the Justice Department.

Francisco, who officially informed President Trump of his decision Wednesday morning, will step down on July 3.

“With the current Supreme Court term — my third in the job — nearing its end, I have decided it is time for me to return to the private sector and spend more time with my family,” the solicitor general wrote in his resignation letter.

Since his appointment in 2017, Francisco has argued before the Supreme Court 17 times. He’s also represented the United States before the high court through filings in more than 150 other cases.

Among his most significant victories during this time were in Trump v. Hawaii, in which the justices upheld the president’s restrictions on travel from countries that present national-security risks, and Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Comm’n, in which the court concluded Colorado violated the Free Exercise Clause in enforcing its anti-discrimination law against a baker who declined on religious grounds to create a custom cake for a same-sex wedding.

Francisco described representing the U.S. before the Supreme Court as “one of the greatest jobs in the world,” adding that being afforded the chance to do so during Trump’s tenure was “a particular privilege.”

“During that time, we have had significant success in advancing the rule of law — including protecting religious liberty, ensuring vigorous enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws, and safeguarding the executive power that the Constitution confers on the president.

“It has been a great honor to advance these objectives alongside the dedicated men and women at the Department of Justice — some of the finest lawyers I have known,” he said.

In a statement, Attorney General William Barr said Francisco has been “a principled and persuasive advocate on issues ranging from the separation of powers to religious liberty to vigorous enforcement of federal immigration law. 

“His skilled advocacy has been instrumental to historic victories on behalf of the president’s national security authority, the free speech rights of public employees, and property owners’ access to federal courts, among many other significant accomplishments,” Barr continued. “Away from the courtroom, he has been a steady and respected leader for the Office of the Solicitor General, a wise counselor to me and others in the executive branch, and a good friend.”

In overseeing federal litigation, Francisco made strategic use of emergency motions to defend important federal programs against improper nationwide injunctions. To that end, the government obtained relief from the Supreme Court on major immigration initiatives, including the travel proclamation, restrictions on asylum abuses, allocation of funds to build a border wall, and revisions to the definition of a public charge. 

As a result of these successes, some lower courts have begun to curb the erroneous use of nationwide injunctions.

A replacement wasn’t named in the statement.

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