President Joe Biden has nominated Elizabeth B. Prelogar to be solicitor general, a post that entails representing the federal government’s interests at the Supreme Court.
Prelogar has been serving in an acting capacity for the past seven months.
Prelogar’s stint as acting solicitor general at the Department of Justice (DOJ) began in January when she left private practice as an attorney to join the Biden administration. From 2014 to 2019, she had worked as an assistant to the solicitor general.
During her prior tenure at DOJ, Prelogar, who is fluent in Russian, worked on then-special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and was an assistant special counsel on his team.
Prelogar was previously a partner at Cooley LLP and an associate at Hogan Lovells. She taught a course at Harvard Law School on Supreme Court and appellate advocacy, according to a White House statement on Aug. 11 that announced her nomination.
Biden’s failure to nominate someone for the post nearly seven months into his tenure concerned some Supreme Court watchers who worried that the important post might lack a permanent occupant when the high court’s new term begins in October, according to Politico.
“It’s not clear what led to the delay in filling the high-ranking post, but some attorneys noted Prelogar’s ties to [Attorney General Merrick] Garland and said the White House might have wished to consider other candidates,” the media outlet reported. “One other person widely discussed for the job was California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger.”
Curt Levey, president of the Committee for Justice, said a solicitor general typically has some influence over the nine-member Supreme Court.
The Committee for Justice is a nonprofit organization that in its own words “advocates constitutionalist positions on legal and policy issues in Congress and the courts, while educating the public and policy makers about the rule of law and constitutionally limited government.”
There is a saying that the solicitor general is effectively the 10th Supreme Court justice because that person’s “arguments have more weight than anyone else who comes before the court,” Levey told The Epoch Times in an interview.
“This is something where you can’t have a political hack,” he said. “You have to have somebody who’s a very, very smart lawyer.
“At the end of the day, it’s more of a legal position than a political position. For the cases the average person cares about, the White House is going” to decide what approach to take, leaving the solicitor general with little discretion, he said.
“The solicitor general has authority, like other parts of the executive branch, but at the end of the day, they do have to do what the White House tells them to do,” he said. “The important decisions are going to come from the White House.”
After earning a degree from Harvard Law School, Prelogar clerked for Garland when he was a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. She then completed clerkships with Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan. Kagan herself was solicitor general from March 2009 to August 2010, at which point she became a Supreme Court justice.
Prelogar previously earned a master’s degree in creative writing at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. She earned an undergraduate degree in English and Russian from Emory University, and was a Fulbright fellow in St. Petersburg, Russia. Born and raised in Idaho, Prelogar lives in the nation’s capital with her husband and two sons.
Prelogar is also a former beauty queen. She was Miss Idaho 2004.