Jones Day's Noel J. Francisco
Noel J. Francisco (Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL.)

After a series of potential candidates came and went, President Donald Trump announced plans Tuesday night to nominate former Jones Day partner Noel Francisco to the position of solicitor general, the top government lawyer before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Francisco is the current acting solicitor general and since January 23 has been the principal deputy SG, according to the Justice Department’s website. As he handled new legal positions taken by the new administration, buzz about possible nominees for the Senate-confirmed position skipped from Jones Day colleague Michael Carvin to George Conway III of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, Charles Cooper of Cooper & Kirk, Christopher Landau of Kirkland & Ellis and Kannon Shanmugam of Williams & Connolly.

Cooper withdrew publicly, criticizing the Senate’s treatment at confirmation hearings of his friend Jeff Sessions, now attorney general, and stating, “I am unwilling to subject myself, my family, and my friends to such a process.”

Francisco joined a parade of Jones Day lawyers into top Trump administration positions, led by Jones Day partner Donald McGahn II, now White House counsel.

A former clerk to the late Justice Antonin Scalia, Francisco argued three high-profile cases before the high court while at Jones Day: McDonnell v. United States, a 2016 case interpreting federal bribery laws, Zubik v. Burwell, also in 2016, involving the contraceptive coverage mandate in the Affordable Care Act, and the 2014 separation-of-powers case NLRB v. Noel Canning. He has not argued before the high court since joining the solicitor general’s office.

During the George W. Bush administration, Francisco served as an associate White House counsel and in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel.