Woods v. Cloyd W. Miller Co.
The solicitor general is an officer of the U.S. Department of Justice who represents the U.S. government in cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. This means that the solicitor and the solicitor's staff are the chief courtroom lawyers for the government, preparing legal briefs and making oral arguments in the Court. The solicitor general also decides which cases the United States should appeal from adverse lower-court decisions.
Congress established the office of solicitor general in 1870 as part of the legislation creating the Department of Justice. Although early solicitors occasionally handled federal trials, for the most part the solicitor general has concentrated on appeals to the Supreme Court. In this role the solicitor has come to serve the interest of both the executive branch and the Court.
The solicitor general occasionally files amicus curiae briefs in cases where the U.S. government is not a party but important government interests are at stake. Sometimes the Court itself will request that the solicitor file a brief where the government is not a party.
Four former solicitors general later served on the Supreme Court: William Howard Taft, Stanley Forman Reed, Robert H. Jackson, and Thurgood Marshall.