White House Comes to Solicitor General’s Defense
By Elizabeth Murphy | March 28, 2012 3:49 pm

After harsh criticism from court analysts, the White House is coming to the defense of Solicitor General Donald Verrilli’s performance before the Supreme Court Tuesday.

Some reviewers said Verrilli was “stumbling” and “passive” in his arguments in the historic health care case before the high court, with Adam Serwer of Mother Jones saying the performance “may go down as one of the most spectacular flameouts in the history of the court.”

Donald Verrilli (Photo by Main Justice).

White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler issued a statement Wednesday, coming to the defense of the veteran Supreme Court advocate.

“He ably and skillfully represented the United States before the Supreme Court yesterday and we have every confidence that he will continue to do so,” Ruemmler said in the statement. “Mr. Verrilli is an extraordinarily talented advocate who possesses a sharp mind, keen judgment and unquestionable integrity.”

Jonathan Allen of Politico wrote that “by most accounts, the solicitor general bungled his Supreme Court defense of the president’s signature health care law, staggering through a tough round of questioning from conservatives Antonin Scalia, John Roberts and Anthony Kennedy.”

Verrilli succeeded Elena Kagan as solicitor general after she was chosen to serve on the high court. Previously, Verrilli has served as Associate Deputy Attorney General and as a deputy in the Office of White House Counsel.

Despite the apparent bumps in the road, Verrilli was back in court Wednesday arguing about the proposed expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

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