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Donald Verrilli, Influential Justice Department Lawyer, to Step Down

by Pete Williams /  / Updated 
Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., speaks during a forum at the Georgetown University Law Center, Friday, March 9, 2012 in Washington, DC.Haraz N. Ghanbari / AP, file

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Donald Verrilli, who successfully defended President Obama's health care law from repeated challenges before the U.S. Supreme Court, will step down later this month, the White House and the Justice Department said Thursday.

Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., speaks during a forum at the Georgetown University Law Center, Friday, March 9, 2012 in Washington, DC.Haraz N. Ghanbari / AP, file

"Thanks to his efforts, 20 million more Americans now know the security of quality, affordable health care," President Obama said, calling Verrilli "a dedicated public servant who has helped our nation live up to its promise of liberty and justice for all."

Verrilli will leave on June 24, near the end of the current Supreme Court term. He spent five years in the office, making him the seventh-longest serving Solicitor General.

Related: Landmark: Supreme Court Rules Same-Sex Marriage Legal Nationwide

He also helped persuade the Supreme Court to legalize same-sex marriage and prevailed in the forerunner to that decision, arguing that the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutionally prevented the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages in the states where they were legal.

A rainbow flag is flown outside the Supreme Court in Washington, DC on Friday after its historic decision on gay marriage.MOLLY RILEY / AFP - Getty Images

Attorney General Loretta Lynch called him "one of the most consequential solicitors general in American history."

Related: Supreme Court Upholds “Papers Please” Arizona Law but Strikes Down Other Provisions

She also praised his advocacy in successfully arguing that the "show us your papers" Arizona immigration law improperly clashed with federal controls.

In March, Verrilli defended President Obama's 2014 executive order that could prevent the deportation of more than four million people who are in the U.S. illegally. That policy has been on hold, blocked by a lawsuit filed by 26 states. The Supreme Court is expected to announce its decision in that case by the end of the month.

Justice Department lawyer Ian Gershengorn will serve as acting solicitor general through the end of President Obama's term.

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