U.S. solicitor general will appear at Wilton Library

Residents will have a chance to hear from a Wilton son who helped defend the Affordable Care Act Thursday, May 22, when Wilton Library welcomes U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. for a brief conversation. He will join the library from 7 to 8:30 that night. 

Mr. Verrilli, the third-highest ranking member of the Department of Justice, graduated from Wilton High School in 1975 and later attended Yale University before graduating from Columbia Law School, where he served as editor in chief of the Columbia Law Review.

Before joining the Justice Department in February 2009, Mr. Verrilli spent 20 years as a litigator in private practice in the Washington, D.C., office of Jenner & Block, where he focused on First Amendment issues, telecommunications and intellectual property law, as well as pro bono matters. From 2000 to 2009 he also co-chaired Jenner & Block’s Supreme Court practice group.

He was nominated to the post of solicitor general by President Barack Obama in January 2011 and was later confirmed by the Senate. He succeeded Elena Kagan, who now serves on the Supreme Court.

As solicitor general, he is responsible for representing the U.S. government in the Supreme Court. When he was first named solicitor general, he had participated in more than 100 Supreme Court cases, and had argued 12.

Joining Mr. Verrilli next Thursday will be attorney Michael Kaelin, principal in the litigation group at Cummings & Lockwood and president of the board of trustees of Wilton Library.

“Anyone who is interested in government and the way we govern ourselves in a democracy should be interested in this,” Mr. Kaelin said by phone Tuesday.

The litigation attorney said he hopes his conversation with the solicitor general will help expand the community’s recognition of successful alumni outside of the athletics fields.

“This is not just about the field of law,” he said, “I’m trying to expand the recognition of graduates outside the field of athletics. People who have achieved things in other fields and endeavors. Athletes tend to get a lot of recognition, but I’m trying to see doctors, lawyers, scientists, engineers, and journalists [get the same.] These are people who contribute to society in many different ways.”

That Mr. Verrilli graduated from Wilton High gives him a special connection to reach students and their parents, Mr. Kaelin said.

“What you’re looking at is someone who graduated from WHS in 1975 just like most of the kids in Wilton who go to public schools,” he said. “They are coming from the same place he came from, and they could end up where he is, or in something equally amazing. It could be different, but they can achieve in all sorts of ways.”

While at Wilton High, Mr. Verrilli was a member of the ecology club, and he organized a group of students to help the Wilton Historical Society save the 1852 train station from demolition and move it to Lambert Corners.

Solicitor General Verrilli has certainly contributed to society in a meaningful way, Mr. Kaelin said. Even those with little interest in legal technique and “lawyering,” he said, will be intrigued by the attorneys’ conversation.

“He personally argued the government’s case in support of the Affordable Care Act. And it’s very possible the argument the Supreme Court ended up relying on to uphold the ACA was the argument that Don Verrilli came up with,” he said.

Mr. Verrilli will appear at the library from 7 to 8:30 on Thursday, May 22. The program is free, but registration is strongly suggested. Information: wiltonlibrary.org.