The AGs, who often attack the administration in packs, have done more than Republicans in Congress, statehouses, or anywhere else to block, cripple, undermine, or weaken Obama’s initiatives. They failed to stop Obamacare in the Supreme Court, but won limits on Medicaid and neutralized the use of the commerce clause to expand the reach of the federal government. And there’s one case left. AG Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma has sued to prevent Obama-run health insurance exchanges from handing out subsidies. If he wins—and he has a credible case—the implementation of Obamacare will come to a halt, at least temporarily.
In effect, the administration has been put on notice: If you adopt policies inconsistent with constitutional limits and the rule of law, Republican attorneys general will come after you. “We have a network and we’re always on alert,” says Alabama AG Luther Strange. In Oklahoma, Pruitt has created a special federalism unit to track federal policies that may infringe on the authority of states. Obama “should know we’re not going to back down,” says Florida AG Pam Bondi. . . .
Beyond the lawsuits they’ve brought, these AGs have a special significance. They’re the future. The legal culture has changed, and smart, young, conservative lawyers can now see a career path that involves years, perhaps decades, as a state attorney general or an assistant AG.