White House Defends Verrilli's Supreme Court Performance

(Image Credit: Haraz N. Ghanbari/AP Photo)

Stung by savage reviews of the administration's courtroom defense Tuesday, the White House is riding to the defense of its solicitor general, Donald Verrilli Jr.

"He ably and skillfully represented the United States before the Supreme Court yesterday," White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler writes in a statement given to ABC News and other news organizations, "and we have every confidence that he will continue to do so."

The chief White House lawyer vouched for him, saying, "Mr. Verrilli is an extraordinarily talented advocate who possesses a sharp mind, keen judgment and unquestionable integrity."

Ruemmler and Deputy White House Chief of Staff Nancy-Ann DeParle were among the West Wing officials seated in the Supreme Court for the health care arguments defending the Affordable Care Act from a constitutional challenge and occasionally bruising questions from at least four skeptical justices.

Verrilli was named to the solicitor general's position by President Obama last year, and he is a veteran litigator before the high court, but his performance Tuesday was roundly criticized by pundits as weak and ineffectual.