Donald B. Verrilli Jr., the Solicitor General of the United States from 2011 to 2016 who famously presented a successful Supreme Court defense of the Affordable Care Act, will speak at Boston College Law School in October.
Selected by the BC Law School Rappaport Center for Law and Public Policy as its fall Distinguished Lecturer, Verrilli will participate in the Conversations@BC Law series Oct. 18 and conduct a constitutional law class Oct. 19.
In an illustrious career that spans more than three decades, Verrilli clerked for Supreme Court Justice William Brennan a year after graduating from Columbia Law School. Later, as a partner specializing in telecommunications, media, and First Amendment law at Jenner & Block in Washington, DC, he represented the Recording Industry Association of America in his first Supreme Court case, MGM Studios, Inc. v Grokster, Ltd.
In all, Verrilli has participated in more than 100 Supreme Court cases and given oral argument in 17 of them, losing some as solicitor general (he describes Shelby Country v. Holder, which struck down the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as the most regrettable), but winning other major victories, including the court’s recognition of the constitutionality of same-sex marriage and of the Affordable Care Act.
Verrilli won the latter case on a 5-to-4 vote after Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. sided with him.
It was, nevertheless, a painful experience, as Verrilli recounted to the New York Times. His voice, worn from practice sessions, gave out as he began his argument. “Then I took a sip of water and it went down the wrong way and I couldn’t get any words out. I definitely lost my concentration at the beginning of the argument,” he said, but over the course of the hour eventually “clawed my way back into the conversation.”
Verrilli is the nation’s seventh longest serving solicitor general.