Attorney General Eric Holder advises state AGs that they may disregard their oaths of office:
Holder said state attorneys general do not have to enforce laws they disagree with, specifically when it comes to the issue of gay marriage.
“It is highly unusual for the United States attorney general to advise his state counterparts on how and when to refuse to defend state laws. But Mr. Holder said when laws touch on core constitutional issues like equal protection, an attorney general should apply the highest level of scrutiny before reaching a decision on whether to defend it. He said the decision should never be political or based on policy objections.”
That last sentence is Holder’s idea of an Orwellian joke.
A state attorney general is sworn to uphold and defend the laws of the state the AG serves. If he/she can’t do that, resignation makes sense.
Better yet, stay and uphold the oath of office by defending the law competently in an appeal. That way the issue will have its day in a higher court with a proper defense, so that the higher court can decide the law’s constitutionality and determine how that particular case stands in terms of a “core constitutional issue” such as equal protection, especially in regard to a relatively new and evolving area such as gay marriage.
An AG is not a judge. If an AG wants to become an appeals court judge and decide such questions, he/she is free to attempt to do so. AGs have some discretion, of course, in the cases they choose to prosecute in their own state. But they should not have such wide discretion in choosing whether or not to defend a never-declared-unconstitutional law passed by their own state. And the AG of the US should not be encouraging them to choose not to defend such laws, either.
Eric Holder must know that. And the fact that he is ignoring it and dictating otherwise to state AGs – a highly unusual action for a US Attorney General, as even the NY Times admits) – is in fact “political and based on policy objections.”
Disgraceful, and yet so typical of this administration.
(Featured image: CBS News video)
[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]DONATE
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