The court turned away the request made by Barry Michaels, a criminal defendant in a federal case whose lawyers challenged Whitaker, a former federal prosecutor, being named in court papers as the acting attorney general after Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Nov. 7. The court in a brief order also declined to hear Michaels' appeal in the underlying firearms-related case.
Lawyers for Michaels, who filed a lawsuit in Nevada challenging a U.S. law that bars him from buying a firearm due to prior non-violent criminal convictions, decided to make Whitaker's appointment an issue in their pending appeal before the high court because Sessions was originally named as a defendant in the case.
Michaels' lawyers argued that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the department's No. 2 official, should have succeeded Sessions under a federal law that vests full authority in the deputy attorney general should the office of attorney general become vacant.
Trump has nominated William Barr, who served as attorney general under former President George H.W. Bush, to succeed Sessions as attorney general.
(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham)
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