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Cities, counties, and states are leading the resistance against the dangerous and racist policies of Donald Trump, and that’s been no clearer in the past few days thanks to state Attorneys General.
The New York Times highlights the recent legal efforts of these elected officials, including Washington state’s Bob Ferguson, who sued Trump and won a nationwide ruling that has, at least temporarily, stopped Trump’s Muslim ban right in its tracks:
The number of states opposing Mr. Trump’s order in court may continue to grow: On Monday, Attorney General Doug Chin of Hawaii filed a motion to join Mr. Ferguson’s suit. And 16 of Mr. Ferguson’s colleagues — including [New York Attorney General Eric] Schneiderman, [Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh] Shapiro and [California Attorney General] Xavier Becerra — filed an amicus brief with the appeals court supporting his action.
Hector Balderas, the New Mexico attorney general, said he had directed aides to identify areas where Trump administration policies could damage New Mexico.
He described the attack on Mr. Trump’s immigration order as a blueprint for state attorneys general who aim to rein in the White House.
“It does seem that we are becoming, potentially, the fourth branch of government,” Mr. Balderas said in an interview.
Even before Mr. Trump’s directive, Democratic attorneys general were gearing up to play a larger role in national politics. With Republicans in control of the White House and Congress, Democrats have increasingly looked to the states both to challenge Mr. Trump’s policies and to enforce federal regulations, including on business and the environment, that his administration may ignore.
Several state attorneys general have cited as an inspiration the long-running legal war waged against the Obama administration by Republican attorneys general, who derailed key White House policies on immigration and nearly voided the Affordable Care Act.
While Mr. Trump was being sworn in last month, three up-and-coming Democratic attorneys general — Mr. Balderas, Mr. Schneiderman and Maura Healey of Massachusetts — joined a conference of wealthy political donors in South Florida to deliberate over the party’s future.
Ms. Healey said there appeared to be an “awakening” among Democratic leaders about the significance of party leaders in the states.
Chris Jankowski, a Republican strategist who was an architect of his party’s efforts to elect formidable attorneys general over the past decade, said Democratic attorneys general were “clearly poised to emerge as a check on the Trump administration, just as their Republican colleagues did for eight years.”
Mr. Jankowski, a lawyer, said Democratic attorneys general would probably rely heavily on the Constitution’s civil rights protections, much as Republicans leaned on constitutional limits on federal economic power.
“State attorneys general are now permanent pieces on the chessboard of national policy development and implementation,” Mr. Jankowski said. “And they are not mere pawns.”
Becerra — a former Congressman from California and now the state’s first Latino Attorney General — is also set on fighting Trump on the issue of sanctuary cities.
Trump has made a legally-questionable threat to withdraw federal funding from the state over sanctuary cities, a pro-immigrant policy favored by mayors and police chiefs alike. As the state’s top legal authority, Becerra is ready to challenge him.
“There is no state that provides more funding to the federal Treasury than the state of California,” Becerra said. “We have a right to receive some of that funding back.”