West Virginia Solicitor General Elbert Lin is resigning after spending more than four years challenging federal policies as a top lawyer in Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s office, according to a notice filed today in federal court.
“After Sept. 1, Mr. Lin will no longer be affiliated with the Office of the West Virginia Attorney General,” the notice states.
Reached by phone Thursday, Lin declined comment.
A short time later, Morrisey’s office issued a news release, announcing Lin’s “impending” departure. The release says Lin “has decided to return to the private sector.”
Lin declined to say where he was going to work, and the release doesn’t name his next employer.
In June, the state Ethics Commission granted Lin’s request for an employment exemption, which allowed him to seek a job with a regulated private sector entity while continuing to be employed by the state.
Earlier this year, BuzzFeed reported that President Donald Trump’s administration had interviewed Lin for a federal district judgeship in Washington, D.C. Lin previously was employed by the Wiley Rein law firm in Washington before Morrisey hired him in 2013.
Morrisey is running for U.S. Senate in the Republican primary. He’s seeking the seat now held by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.
Lin, who makes more than $140,000 a year as the state’s chief appellate lawyer, has overseen lawsuits filed by Morrisey’s office against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies. He frequently challenges the constitutionality of federal laws.
“Elbert played a major role in many of the office’s fights against federal overreach, including our historic and unprecedented victory at the U.S. Supreme Court halting the so-called Clean Power Plan,” Morrisey said.
The Clean Power Plan is on hold because of a U.S. Supreme Court order that blocked the measure pending a D.C. Circuit ruling.
The EPA rule, a centerpiece of the Obama administration’s efforts to combat climate change, would require reductions in carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants and has been strongly opposed by the mining industry and most West Virginia political leaders.
As solicitor general, Lin also issued opinions on behalf of the Attorney General’s Office.
The son of immigrants from Taiwan, Lin was born in New York and grew up outside Chicago, according to the Federalist Society website.
Lin was a former clerk for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
Later Thursday, Lin posted a commentary on the U.S. Supreme Court’s blog, explaining the West Virginia attorney general’s support of New Jersey’s fight to legalize sports betting at casinos and racetracks.
Morrisey’s “friend of the court” brief argues that a federal appeals court ruling against New Jersey’s quest to legalize sports betting usurps states’ rights.
Lin called the case a “sleeping blockbuster.”
Staff writer Ken Ward Jr. contributed to this report.
Reach Eric Eyre at email@example.com, 304-348-4869 or follow @ericeyre on Twitter.