The Wall Street Journal reports that the president "will nominate White House lawyer Donald Verrilli as solicitor general, filling a vacancy left by Elena Kagan when she became a Supreme Court justice last year, the White House said Monday." By picking Verrilli, the White House is passing over Neal Katyal, who has temporarily held the position since Kagan left for the Supreme Court.
Katyal, by most accounts, should've received the White House's nomination for the position. So why was he passed up?
The Wall Street Journal continues:
Mr. Katyal was a top candidate to get the nomination, but some administration officials feared Republicans in the Senate would try to block him.
Mr. Katyal helped lead the legal team that won a landmark Supreme Court ruling in 2006 against the Bush administration's plan to hold military-commission trials for detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison. His work on behalf of Guantanamo detainees has been criticized by some national-security hawks.
Some conservative activists led by Liz Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, ran ads calling lawyers who represented Guantanamo prisoners "al Qaeda" lawyers. Some top former Bush administration officials came to the lawyers' defense, citing legal traditions on defending unpopular plaintiffs and the need to clarify constitutional disputes.
In choosing Mr. Verrilli, the administration is likely to win a friendlier reception on Capitol Hill, where Republicans increased their numbers in the Senate in the November elections. Before joining the administration, Mr. Verrilli was a lawyer at Jenner & Block LLP, representing big media companies.