By Kimberly Atkins
Washington — The Senate Judiciary Committee has voted to advance the nomination of Donald B. Verrilli Jr. as U.S. solicitor general to the full Senate.
The committee voted 17-1 to recommend Verrilli’s confirmation. Verrilli won the votes of several Republicans who were critical of his testimony before the committee in March, including Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. The lawmakers criticized the administration’s decision to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act in Court, and questioned whether Verrilli would simply be a rubber-stamp for the White House if confirmed as solicitor general.
Grassley said Verrilli assured the lawmakers that “he would not lend his name or that of the office to carry out any order which he believed to be based on partisan political consideration or other illegitimate reasons. Rather than do so, he said he would resign from office. I will hold him to that pledge.”
Grassley said his vote was not a ringing endorsement.
“I want to be clear about my tepid support for Mr. Verrilli,” Grassley said. “He is nominated to an executive branch position with a limited term. My lukewarm support is based largely on the nature of the office to which he will be appointed, if confirmed.”
Only Alabama GOP Sen. Jeff Sessions voted against Verrilli.
Verrilli has served as White House deputy counsel and as associate deputy attorney general at the Justice Department, where he focused on national security. Verrilli also spent more than 20 years in the Washington office of Jenner & Block, where he co-chaired the firm’s Supreme Court practice group, arguing a dozen cases before the Court and participating in over 100 Supreme Court cases.
Neal Katyal ever since former Solicitor General Elena Kagan was nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court last year.