When it comes to law and legal matters, one question that most people often ask is what is the difference between solicitor general and attorney general?
In simple words, the meaning of attorney general is someone who, in the majority of the law jurisdictions, is the federal government’s main legal consultant. In some cases, attorneys general also have chief duties to look after certain legal matters, carry out law enforcement or even prosecutions. In practical situations, the legal consultation that an attorney general can provide the government with, differs not only from one jurisdiction to another, but also between specific office holders in the same jurisdiction. This is also based upon the degree and quality of any judicial experience that the individuals might have had.
On the other hand, the meaning of solicitor general is someone (typically a law official) who is the main agent of a provincial or federal government in court procedures. This is especially the case in common law countries. Usually in institutions where an attorney general (or someone of an equal rank) is present, the solicitor general is typically the second-positioned law official of the state and a delegate of the attorney general. Just like with the attorney general, the degree to which a solicitor general can give legal guidance to or speak for the government in court, differs from administration to administration, and at times between singular office holders in the same administration.
Attorney General Duties
The Attorney General rank was first made by the Judiciary Act of 1789. In June 1870 Congress sanctioned a law named “An Act to Establish the Department of Justice.” This Act set up the attorney general as top of the ‘Department of Justice’ and provided him/her guidance and control of U.S. lawyers and all other counsel members that the United States had employed. The Act additionally vested in the attorney general administrative control over the records of U.S. lawyers and marshals.
The purpose of the attorney general’s office is to administer and coordinate the organization and activity of the Department of Justice, which is inclusive of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Prisons, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Drug Enforcement Administration, Office of Justice Programs, and the U.S. Lawyers and U.S. Marshals Service, which are all part of the Department of Justice.
The foremost obligations of the attorney general are to represent the United States in judicial issues. Moreover, an AG also has to administer and direct the organization and activity of the workplaces, sheets, divisions, and agencies that involve the Department. They have to give counsel and offer formal and casual assessments, on legal issues to the President and the Cabinet as well as to the leading members of the executive offices and government administration, as given by law. Attorneys general also make proposals to the President concerning arrangements to legal positions in the government and to positions inside the Department, including U.S. Lawyers and U.S. Marshals. They speak for or oversee the portrayal of the United States Government in the Supreme Court of the United States and every other court, be it foreign or local, in which the United States is a party or has an interest as might be esteemed suitable. Perform or manage the presentation of different responsibilities required by resolution or Executive Order.
Solicitor General Duties
The main responsibility of the Solicitor General is to overlook and undertake government lawsuits in the Supreme Court of the U.S. Usually, such prosecution cases always go through the solicitor general’s office and are also steadily administered by the office.
The cases where the government seeks the Supreme Court’s revision, as well as the stance the government takes before the Court, is all concluded and regulated by the solicitor general. Other staff members of the office such as staff attorneys, the solicitor general’s assistants and deputy solicitors general, all take part in formulating the petitions, briefs, and other documents submitted to the Supreme Court by the government. Moreover, the verbal arguments that take place before the Supreme Court, are also supervised by the solicitor general. The petitions that a solicitor general does not take up personally, are given to the solicitor general’s assistant or to some other lawyer representing the government. However, most of the government’s cases are fought either by the solicitor general or any office lawyer.
Another duty of the solicitor general’s office is to analyze all lawsuits to the government in the lower courts and decide whether or not they should be petitioned, and if they are, what stance they should take. The solicitor general also concludes whether or not the government will involve itself in any appellate court or take part as an amicus curiae.
Difference Between Attorney General and Chief Justice
Since we have already established the role of an attorney general and what it entails, let us briefly look at what duties a chief justice has.
The Chief Justice, the main judge managing the Supreme Court of the United States, and the most noteworthy legal officer of the country. The chief justice is selected by the president with the exhortation and agreement of the Senate. Moreover, he has a lifelong term. The essential duties of the Chief Justice are to manage the Supreme Court in its open meetings when the court is hearing contentions and during its private gatherings when it is reviewing and choosing cases.
He fills in as administrator in the court and has the position to appoint the writing of theories and point of views in situations where the judge is a part of the dominant party. Other than that, the authority of a chief justice is the same as other Supreme Court justices. He usually oversees the oath of office to the president and the vice president at the time of their commencement. The Chief Justice is additionally the managing official of the Judicial Conference of the United States, a gathering of judges speaking to all the government courts that audit and examine issues identifying with the organization of judiciary in those courts.
Let us take a look at a few differences between the two:
- In simple terms, a Chief Justice is a judge while an Attorney General is a lawyer.
- In the longer run, the Supreme Court Chief Justice has more authority than an Attorney General since he remains on bench for a longer time.
- The attorney general is the main law-enforcement officer of the nation, but never fights any cases himself.
- The attorney general is quite dependent on the president and sets the tone of how government lawyers will go about their business.
- The Chief Justice can only be removed from his seat in case of any indictment or accusation on him while an attorney general can be fired any time.
Some Basic Rights Of An Attorney General
- He has executive authority.
- While practicing his duties, an attorney general has the right to an audience in all courts.
- He holds the right to address or participate in the affairs of both the House of Representatives and The Senate and their joint meetings (however, an AG does not hold the right to vote).
- He holds the right to address or participate in the conferences of any committee of the U.S. Congress party of which he is a part of (however, an AG does not hold the right to vote).
- He has all the advantages and freedom that is provided to a member of parliament.
Some Limitations On An Attorney General
- He should not consult or hold information against the U.S. Government.
- If the government has not given a green flag, he should not defend the incriminated party in criminal cases.
- If the government has not permitted him, he should not accept any assignment as a director in any organization.
In the national U.S. government, the Attorney General is a member of the Cabinet and the main head of the Department of Justice. It is important to be able to differentiate between an Attorney General and a Solicitor General. The latter is only a high official from the Justice Department and is tasked with representing the government before the Supreme Court.
The singular states in America along with Washington D.C. which is the federal city, all have attorneys general with identical duties. While the federal attorney general is chosen by the president and confirmed by the Senate, most of the state attorneys general are through elections.
In nearly all United States jurisdictions the attorney general is also regarded to hold a police rank. The proper term used to address anyone holding the office is Mister or Madam Attorney General, or just as Attorney General.