The meteoric rise of Solicitor General Paul Clement, 41, who will become acting attorney general Sept. 17, came under the tutelage of noted conservatives, says the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. After graduating magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1992, Clement, a Wisconsin native, clerked for conservative Judge Laurence Silberman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and, later, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Clement was a member of the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group, until he joined the Justice Department in 2001.
The Wall Street Journal called him “one of the conservative legal movement’s brightest stars.” Nan Aron of the Alliance for Justice said Clement was “part of an ultra-conservative group of lawyers recruited by this administration to limit the rights and liberties for Americans across the country.” Clement worked for then-Sen. John Ashcroft (R-MO), who went on to become the U.S. attorney general under Bush before Gonzales. U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) supported Clement as Solicitor General. Feingold noted that when the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law came before the Supreme Court, Clement argued for 40 minutes without notes and with “complete command of both the intricacies of the statute and the legal precedents bearing on the case.”