At­tor­neys gen­eral ha­rangue Trump

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY VA­LERIE RICHARD­SON

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.

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