Bench Memos

Excellent WaPo Op-Ed on Duty of State Attorneys General

After its inane house editorial last week defending Virginia AG Mark Herring’s irresponsible refusal to defend his state’s marriage laws, I’m pleased to see that the Washington Post today published an excellent op-ed on the broader topic by Colorado attorney general John W. Suthers. An excerpt:

I fear that refusing to defend unpopular or politically distasteful laws will ultimately weaken the legal and moral authority that attorneys general have earned and depend on. We will become viewed as simply one more player in a political system rather than as legal authorities in a legal system. The courts, the governments we represent and, most important, the people we serve will treat our pronouncements and arguments with skepticism and cynicism. One must be cynical when an attorney general refuses to defend a controversial law as “clearly unconstitutional” when there is no binding precedent and it is apparent to most knowledgeable people that the U.S. Supreme Court is likely to decide the case on a 5-4 vote.

I’ll add that I’ve just submitted an article to a print magazine on the same topic and expect it to be published in a week or so.

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