Solicitor General Clement Says He Will Step Down

By Robert Barnes
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 15, 2008

Solicitor General Paul D. Clement, a key advocate in court for the administration's counterterrorism policies, will resign from the Justice Department in early June, the department announced yesterday.

Clement, 41, has argued 49 cases before the Supreme Court on behalf of the government, including some of the most controversial since he was appointed in 2005. He has also represented the government in federal appeals court cases.

A former clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia, Clement has been a member of the Federalist Society and is well-known as a legal conservative, but he has also been praised by liberal justices on the Supreme Court. Clements's tenure has been marked by a willingness to find a position that attracts majority support, even if it means less emphasis on ideological stands.

Gun activists were upset with him earlier this year because of a brief he filed in the Second Amendment challenge of the District's handgun ban. Clement agreed with their position that the amendment affords an individual right to gun ownership, but said the lower-court ruling that struck the D.C. law was so broadly rendered that it endangered all federal gun control legislation. He urged the court to return the case for further review; it has not yet ruled.

Clement will leave office on June 2. He has not announced his plans.

"I will miss not only Paul's superb advocacy on behalf of the United States, but also his wise counsel and keen legal analysis," Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey said in a statement announcing Clements's departure.

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