Others have raised the spectre of a constitutional challenge to the voting rights bill H.R. 1.
Politico reports that with the Republican party out of power in the White House and Congress, the nation’s 26 Republican attorneys general have emerged as the weapons division of the GOP, reprising a role played by Democratic AGs during the Trump era.
Just as Democratic AGs served as the vanguard of the blue-state resistance, Republican AGs are leading the charge to stymie President Joe Biden’s policy-making agenda.
“We’re standing up and fighting back,” said Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, who is leading a coalition of states suing Biden over an executive order pertaining to the “social cost” of greenhouse gas emissions.
Republican attorneys general, said Schmitt, vice-chair of the Republican Attorneys General Association, “play a very important role in checking a very aggressive administrative state that’s been unleashed.”
Only two months into Biden’s term, the breadth of challenges from Republican-led states to the president’s agenda is already expansive, touching on everything from tax policy to climate change and abortion. Five Republican attorneys general interjected themselves into his appointment process, urging Biden to withdraw his nominee for the No. 3 positions at the Justice Department, Vanita Gupta.
And the litigation is likely just beginning, as Biden and the Democratic-controlled Congress unwind Trump-era policies and begin to implement their own.
It’s “the rise of the Republican AGs as a counterweight to the Biden administration’s overreach,” said Mark Weaver, a Republican strategist and former deputy attorney general of Ohio.
“This is a natural tension and the balance of power, right? Leaders in government will use whatever levers of power are available to them to advance their policy goals.
”And state Republican attorneys general have the ability to bring lawsuits. And that’s what they’re doing.”
Years later, Democrats returned the favour. Former California Attorney General — and newly confirmed Health and Human Services Secretary — Xavier Becerra alone filed no fewer than 100 lawsuits against the Trump administration on issues ranging from health care and immigration to climate change and gun control.
The challenges Republicans are now mounting against Biden represent “the other side of the coin from the Democrats bringing literally hundreds of lawsuits against the Trump administration, which in turn built on a trend” of Republicans suing Obama, said Rob McKenna, the former Republican attorney general of Washington and former president of the National Association of Attorneys General.
He said one reason for the proliferation of such litigation is that successive administrations are relying increasingly on the use of executive orders, “so they leave themselves open to legal challenges” about the extent of executive power.
“On the political side,” McKenna said, “the base of each party, Democratic and Republican, expects their attorney general to step up and fight for issues that the base believes in. … There’s a higher expectation now that the AGs are going to be active, and if you don’t step up, you’re likely to come under fire from people in your own party.”
That was more obvious than ever in the aftermath of the November election. Following then-President Donald Trump’s defeat, it was Texas’ embattled attorney general, Ken Paxton, who led a failed effort by Republican-led states to overturn the election in several battleground states — though not his own. The attorney general of Utah, Sean Reyes, crossed state borders to advance Trump’s baseless claims of voter fraud in Nevada. And an arm of the Republican Attorneys General Association sent robocalls encouraging people to attend the “Stop the Steal” rally at the Capitol on Jan. 6. RAGA officials distanced themselves from the call and condemned the ensuing riot.