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It was business as usual at the Solicitor General’s Office last week, which meant preparing for oral arguments and discussing cases with the boss — even though the boss, Solicitor General Paul Clement, had just been named acting attorney general, starting when Alberto Gonzales leaves on Sept. 17. He might even get the nod for the permanent position. “Same old Paul,” said one lawyer at the office. “Nothing has changed of any significance.” The news of Clement’s appointment was not a surprise in the office, another said, because Clement was the next Senate-confirmed official in the department’s line of succession. (Deputy and associate attorney general seats are not yet filled.) Clement may even continue to argue Supreme Court cases in his new acting job, several colleagues agree. But he should not have to do both jobs, says Todd Gaziano, head of legal studies at the Heritage Foundation, who urges a quick replacement for Gonzales, even if it requires a recess appointment. “The job of solicitor general can’t be left to assistants,” says Gaziano. “It would send an awful signal to the Court.” Lawyers who work with Clement say he won’t be overloaded. “If anyone in the world could do both jobs, it’s Paul,” says one. Clement might want to hold on to his dual portfolio so he can return often to the relative calm of the SG’s office. Smallish — with 15 associates, four deputies, and four Bristow fellows — and bookish, the office is somewhat insulated from the more political winds buffeting the rest of the building. “We read the newspapers, yes,” says one veteran. “But here, morale turns more on whether we are getting enough argument time at the Supreme Court.”
Tony Mauro can be contacted at [email protected].

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