Brown Family Distinguished Visitor

Acting Solicitor General Gershengorn Explains Many Roles with SCOTUS, POTUS & Congress


“Sometimes, before an argument, I’ll look up and think, ‘This is really cool. I get to work here.’ I get to stand up and say, ‘On behalf of the United States …’”

Ian Gershengorn
Acting Solicitor General

solicitor_general_190-2With many roles to fill and a political shift in the White House, the Solicitor General’s office could find itself coming and going. But as Acting Solicitor General Ian Gershengorn says, “Our client is always the United States.”

Gershengorn spoke at a fireside chat with Dean Nancy Staudt and Professors Greg Magarian and Adam Rosenzweig as the inaugural Mel and Pamela Brown Family Distinguished Visitor and Lecturer. He explained the office’s roles and challenges in representing the government before the U.S. Supreme Court and in shaping public policy.

solicitor_general_115-1“It’s very important in our interaction with the courts that we be seen as exercising independent judgment and not just as an arm of the political party that happens to be in control,” said Gershengorn, noting that he is one of just two staff members who are political appointees. “One of the things I’ve come to appreciate is the strength of the career lawyers we have. They’re very much the conscience of the department.”

Gershengorn explained the many duties of the Solicitor General’s office, the division of the Justice Department that represents the United States in about 85 percent of all cases before the Supreme Court. It also advises the Attorney General, the White House Counsel, Congress, and in some cases, the Supreme Court.