NEW YORK -- If all goes well in the confirmationhearings, the next Solicitor General of the United States is a prominentFilipino American lawyer who was a clerk of the late conservative firebrand,Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
Noel John Francisco of Oswego, New York, isreported to be Donald Trump’s choice to be the next Solicitor General,described by Texas Senator Ted Cruz as a “principled conservative.”
Francisco has argued that Trump’s order banningimmigration from six mostly Muslim countries is a decision only the presidentcan make, and not open to any legal challenge.
“The power to expel or exclude aliens is a fundamentalsovereign attribute, delegated by Congress to the executive branch ofgovernment and largely immune from judicial control,” he said in a widelypublished legal brief.
Filipino Americans are divided in their opinion ofFrancisco. Conservatives welcomed the appointment of a FilAm – the third so far— to the Trump administration, while liberals warned against too much rejoicingif the official will work against the interests of immigrant communities,including Filipinos.
He is set to take over from Neal Katyal, who wasacting Solicitor General under President Barack Obama. Elena Kagan, the firstwoman to hold the title departed two months after she was named to the SupremeCourt by Obama.
In announcing Francisco’s appointment as the ActingSolicitor General, the Department of Justice (DOJ) says he has appeared inseveral cases before the Supreme Court. He served as Associate Counsel toformer President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2003, and as Deputy AssistantAttorney General in the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel from 2003 to 2005.
Francisco was raised in Upstate NewYork by an American mother, Therese, and a Filipino father, Nemesio, in thecity of Oswego whose Asian population counted a little more than 1 percent,according to the 2015 U.S. Census. In this tiny, waterfront town, he attendedOswego High School where he graduated in 1987, according to an article onFrancisco in Syracuse.com. He has a brother, David.
He received his B.A. with honors in 1991 from theUniversity of Chicago, his law degree — also with high honors — from theUniversity of Chicago Law School in 1996. He served as a law clerk first forJudge J. Michael Luttig of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit,and then later for Scalia.
“Noel was a wonderful student,” said Edward Lisk,band director of the Oswego High School marching band, where Francisco playedthe trombone. “I had him throughout his four years of high school. I alsowatched him and observed him through his elementary and middle school years,too, because he was a very well-mannered and disciplined student committed toexcellence.”
Lisk’s comments appeared in Syracuse.com article.“Francisco never missed a lesson or rehearsal, Lisk continued. He had highexpectations for success. He was very committed. He was an outstanding musicianbecause he was dedicated.”
The article described Francisco’s father as aFilipino immigrant who later became Oswego’s beloved doctor. “He is the son ofa Filipino immigrant who moved to the United States, speaking little Englishand without much money, to pursue a medical career that took him to Oswego in1971.
“Nemesio Francisco would become one of the mostbeloved doctors in Oswego — taking calls at home and on weekends — beforesuccumbing to cancer at age 53 in 1989.
“While growing up, Francisco rarely talked abouthis father’s journey from the Philippines. But when Noel returned to OswegoHigh School to deliver the 2013 commencement address, he talked about havingthe courage to accept difficult challenges in life. He cited his father as anexample.”