On the most basic level an Attorney General is the leading law enforcement official for the state or country. He is most definitely not a legislator or governor. Yet as Colorado Attorney General John Suthers points out that is what many Attorneys General are becoming:
Recently, attorneys general in Virginia, Pennsylvania and California have given in to the temptation to abuse the power entrusted to our position by refusing to defend their states’ bans on same-sex marriage in court. . . .
It appears that some attorneys general are wielding the litigation veto for the same reasons a governor might wield a constitutional veto: They strongly disagree with the law. . . .
But in contrast to the president or a governor, there is no constitutional authority for this litigation veto. To the contrary, it undermines many important principles of our democracy.
To be clear Suthers is not arguing the case for or against same-sex “marriage.” He is writing about the job of Attorney General.
The politicization of Attorneys General starts with Eric Holder and the Obama Administration. Holder has stated his Department of Justice won’t enforce certain laws and the Obama Administration has refused to follow the law on its signature act, Obamacare. This is dangerous and goes beyond the politics of the moment. It is not just damaging the country right now but the roles of Attorneys General going forward. It gives political cover and license for state Attorneys General to also ignore the law and their jobs. As Suthers concludes on Attorneys General:
We will become viewed as simply one more player in a political system rather than as legal authorities in a legal system.
As an association of lawyers, we are very concerned about this and it is one or the reasons we have called on Eric Holder to resign.