Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., who represented the Obama administration in historic Supreme Court wins on the health care law and same-sex marriage, will leave the job this month.
The groundbreaking cases Verrilli handled during five years as the government’s representative at the Supreme Court makes him “one of the most consequential” solicitors general in U.S. history, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Thursday in announcing the departure.
His next career steps were not immediately clear.
Verrilli, 58, led the case against the Defense of Marriage Act (PL 104-199), which the Supreme Court struck down in 2013. He argued for the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of marriage equality for same-sex couples, which the justices legalized in 2015.
Most notably, he successfully defended the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul law (
) in its first major legal challenge in 2012 — even though his performance at oral arguments in the case was widely panned. He fended off another major challenge to the health care law at the Supreme Court in 2015.
“Through these and many other cases — and through his thoughtful counsel and principled advocacy — Don has built a legacy of inclusion, expanding opportunities and civil rights for all Americans and moving our country forward,” Lynch said.
Obama said in a written statement that Verrilli fought “for a better future, winning landmark cases that moved America forward.”
“Thanks to his efforts, 20 million more Americans now know the security of quality, affordable health care; we’re combating discrimination so that more women and minorities can own their piece of the American Dream,” Obama said. “We’ve reaffirmed our commitment to ensuring that immigrants are treated fairly; and our children will now grow up in a country where everyone has the freedom to marry the person they love.”
Verrilli was a deputy White House counsel when Obama nominated him as solicitor general in January 2011 amid the controversy of the administration declining to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, also known as DOMA. President Bill Clinton signed DOMA, which established a federal definition of marriage as a legal union only between one man and one woman, in 1996.
The Senate confirmed Verrilli in June 2011 on a 72-16 vote.
He previously was an associate deputy attorney general at the Justice Department and spent more than 20 years in private practice.
Ian Gershengorn, the principal deputy solicitor general, will serve as acting solicitor general starting June 25, Lynch said.