Attorneys general harangue Trump
They used to call themselves AGs United for Clean Power, but the Democratic attorneys general who once pursued Exxon might be more accurately described today as AGs United Against Trump.
Anti-Trump prosecutors have banded together this year to rain litigation on the White House, raising their own political profiles as well as the temperatures of Republicans who have decried the Democratic use of the court system to wage policy disputes as an abuse of prosecutorial discretion.
Maryland state Delegate Haven N. Shoemaker Jr., Carroll County Republican, became so frustrated at what he described as Attorney General Brian Frosh’s “grandstanding” that he and 35 other Republican legislators last week sent the Democrat a message: Enough with the lawsuits already.
“With regard to what we see Brian Frosh doing, I mean, he’s suing President Trump for everything from soup to nuts,” said Mr. Shoemaker, himself a lawyer. “Every week, it’s something with him.”
In their letter last Monday, the legislative Republicans urged Mr. Frosh to rethink the moreis-better approach to litigation. Just last week he joined 19 Democratic AGs in suing the Education Department over delaying Obama-era regulations on for-profit colleges.
That’s not all. So far this year he has participated in multistate Democratic coalitions challenging the Trump administration on the methane rule, pesticide labeling, greenhouse gases, efficiency standards, regulatory rollbacks, vehicle emissions standards and the so-called “travel ban.”
A month ago, Mr. Frosh and District of Columbia Attorney General Karl A. Racine filed a lawsuit alleging that Mr. Trump has violated the Constitution’s emoluments clauses by benefiting from foreign governments through his hotel and golf businesses, which Mr. Shoemaker described as “borderline frivolous.”
Democratic prosecutors have defended their aggressive legal activism as necessary to guard against what they describe as the Trump administration’s irresponsible deregulation efforts and unpredictable administrative impulses.
“Again and again, the Trump administration puts the interests of polluters before the health and safety of New Yorkers. But we’ve made clear: We won’t hesitate to fight back,” said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman after 15 prosecutors filed a June 29 notice of intent to sue over the methane rule.
Certainly Democrats aren’t the first to take to the courts to oppose an unfriendly White House. During the Obama administration, Republican attorneys general in more than 20 states teamed up to fight the Affordable Care Act and the Clean Power Plan in the courts.
The difference lies in the sheer volume of the Democratic challenges as well as the rationale behind the litigation.
While Republicans had fought to stop the federal government from encroaching on state authority, the Democrats want to safeguard federal regulations and programs, not thwart them, said Andrew M. Grossman, a partner with BakerHostetler in Washington, D.C., who was involved in the Clean Power Plan litigation.
“What’s so strange is that they (Democrats) are doing exactly the opposite,” said Mr. Grossman. “They want the federal government to regulate more, and apparently they don’t want the states to have their say. It’s exactly backwards.”
Connecticut lawyer Margaret A. Little said the result is that Democratic prosecutors are abusing their enforcement power to advance a policy agenda.