“We stand up and fight back,” said Eric Schmitt, attorney general for Missouri Leading a coalition of states Lawsuit against Biden over an executive order regarding the “social costs” of greenhouse gas emissions.
Republican attorneys general, said Schmitt, vice chairman of the Republican attorney general, “play a very important role in controlling a very aggressive administrative state that has been unleashed.”
Just two months into Biden’s tenure, the range of challenges that Republican-led states are putting on the president’s agenda is wide, affecting everything from tax policy to climate change to abortion. Five Republican attorneys general interfered in his appointment process. He asked Biden to withdraw his candidate for the No. 3 position in the Justice Department, Vanita Gupta.
And the litigation probably won’t start until Biden and the democratically controlled Congress wind down Trump-era policies and begin implementing their own.
It’s “the rise of Republican corporations as a counterbalance to the overreach of the Biden administration,” said Mark Weaver, a Republican strategist and former Ohio assistant attorney general. “That’s the natural tension and the balance of power, right? Heads of government will use all leverage at their disposal to advance their political goals. And Republican attorneys general have the ability to file lawsuits. And that’s exactly what they do. “
Attorneys-general in Washington have traditionally held a more prominent position when a president of the other party is in power. Texas Governor Greg Abbott, as attorney general, sued the Obama administration so many times that in 2013 he said: “I go to the office in the morning. I’ll sue Barack Obama and then go home.”
Years later, the Democrats returned the favor. Former California attorney general and newly confirmed secretary for health and human services – Xavier Becerra alone filed no fewer than 100 lawsuits against the Trump administration on issues such as health care and immigration, climate change, and gun control.
The challenges Republicans now face against Biden are “the other side of the coin from Democrats, who have literally hundreds of lawsuits against the Trump administration building on a trend” that Republicans are suing Obama, Rob said McKenna, the former Republican Attorney General of Washington and past President of the National Association of Attorneys General.
He said one reason for the proliferation of such litigation is that successive administrations are increasingly reliant on the use of executive regulations “to face legal challenges” regarding the extent of executive power.
“On the political side,” McKenna said, “the grassroots of every party, Democratic and Republican, expect their attorney general to step up and fight for issues the grassroots believe in … There is now a higher expectation that the AGs will will do.” Be active and if you don’t move up, you are likely to be targeted by people in your own group. “
That was more evident than ever after the November elections. Following the defeat of then-President Donald Trump, it was the embattled Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton who led a failed attempt by Republican-led states to overthrow elections in several battlefield states – albeit not his own. Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes Crossed state lines to advance Trump’s unsubstantiated allegations of election fraud in Nevada. And an arm of the Republican Attorneys General Association sent robocalls encouraging people to take part in the Stop the Steal rally at the Capitol on January 6th. RAGA officers distanced themselves from the call and condemned the subsequent uprising.
At least one Republican attorney general who refused to join efforts to overturn the election, Lawrence Wasden of Idaho, has been punished by Republican lawmakers in his home state try to contain its power.
For the Democrats, the participation of Republican attorneys general in the aftermath of the elections was more damaging than typical partisan warfare. Rather, it was “something we haven’t seen before,” said Maura Healey, Massachusetts attorney general and co-chair of the Democratic Attorneys General Association.
“There can be fights,” said Healey, who was one Leader of the Democratic Attorney General’s Resistance to Trump. “For example, it can be difficult to find out the extent or extent of federal authority over a state, right? And maybe there is a republican philosophy and a democratic philosophy. So we’re used to these battles, OK? But that’s something else. “
Now she said, “Unfortunately it seems … that there are certain Republican corporations out there desperately trying to stop the Biden and Harris administration from moving forward, and I think that’s unfortunate.”
Alabama Republican Attorney General Steve Marshall said the extent of the Republicans’ legal challenge against Biden will depend on how aggressive his administration is, mostly on executive action. But the GOP attorneys general won’t just try to block elements of Biden’s agenda, he said. They will also try to preserve the Trump-era policies that the Democrats reversed – and the Republican Attorneys General will now step in to preserve them.