President Donald Trump announced his intent to nominate acting Solicitor General Noel Francisco to permanently fill that position Tuesday night.
Francisco, who most recently hails from the law firm Jones Day, has been working on the re-launch of the President’s travel ban executive order. At Jones Day he worked with Donald McGahn, the current White House counsel, and is one of several Jones Day alumni currently serving in the Trump administration.
“Noel is an incredibly gifted appellate advocate, I’ve worked with him a lot,” said Mike Carvin, who has worked with Francisco for many years at Jones Day. “He is as easy to work with as he is persuasive to the courts., He can advance controversial issues without annoying the other side and even people who disagree with him in principal uniformly like him as a person.”
The job of solicitor general is one of the most coveted legal jobs in Washington. The so called “S.G.” stands in the ornate chamber and argues before the Supreme Court, but he or she also plays a vital behind the scenes role of determining whether the United States will appeal in thousands of cases each year.
The White House made the announcement alongside several other administration posts, including general counsel posts at the CIA and Department of Defense.
Those named were Courtney Simmons Elwood for a top legal job at the CIA, Jeffrey Rosen for the number two position at the Department of Transportation, John Sullivan for general counsel at defense, Ajit Pai to the FCC and Tony Sayegh, Jr. for assistant secretary for public affairs at the Treasury Department.
Both Rosen and Sullivan were named to administration posts in former President George W. Bush’s administration, and the White House said Sayegh is a Fox News contributor who has worked in professional politics.
Elwood worked in government for the bulk of the Bush administration, including as deputy counsel under former Vice President Dick Cheney, and clerked for former Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, according to the biography page on the law firm she works at.
Francisco, a former clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia, has argued several times before the high court as a private attorney. In 2016 he secured a victory for former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell in a case concerning the scope of a federal bribery statute.
He was initially tapped to serve as Principal Deputy Solicitor General for the United States. In January, sources said that Charles J. Cooper of Cooper Kirk and George Conway, a partner at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz who is also the husband of Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway were the two front runners for the top spot. Cooper – a close friend of Attorney General Jeff Sessions – later withdrew his name from consideration.
Other potential choices for the solicitor general nomination were lawyers Christopher Landau of Kirkland & Ellis and Kannon Shanmugam of Williams & Connolly.
Francisco was raised in Oswego, New York and he graduated from the University of Chicago and the University of Chicago Law School. He is a former clerk to Judge J. Michael Luttig.
The job of Solicitor General requires Senate confirmation.
Like Francisco, Pai has been serving as acting chairman of the FCC since January, and the announcement Tuesday night showed Trump’s formal intention to make the move permanent. He originally became a member of the FCC under former President Barack Obama for one of the Republican positions on FCC leadership.
As a member during the Obama administration, he voted against the agency’s net neutrality rules and has broken with the previous Democratic chairman of the FCC.
In a statement, Pai said he was “deeply honored” to get a chance at a second term.
CNN’s Eli Watkins contributed to this report.