GOP attorneys general litigate, push back against Obama regulations

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
Font Size:

Nine Republican attorneys general declared Monday that the Obama administration is riding roughshod over the law, and is using its regulatory powers to impose huge costs on the states.

“You’re seeing now a federal government that’s doing everything in its power to circumvent the Bill of Rights,” South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson  said during a press conference during the Washington, D.C. meeting of the Republican Attorneys General Association.

“We are constantly being forced to sue the federal government to protect our states,” added Florida AG Pam Bondi.

Washington is waging an “across the board regulatory assault” on state governments, said Virginia’s AG, Ken Cuccinelli, who organized the event. This “administration repeatedly shows disdain for the law … the states, and the Constitution,” he said. “It is absolutely unprecedented.”

The nine AGs said their staffs are working on 70 cases, often cooperatively.

President Barack Obama’s legal impositions on states should be recognized by voters in November, Cuccinelli said. “It is important for them to understand what is at at stake in this election. … It is literally the rule of law itself,” said Cuccinelli, who is expected to run for governor in 2013.

But those federal impositions also impose a heavy price on state residents, he added.

In Virginia, the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulations have already boosted electricity prices for poor people, said Cuccinelli. “The people hurt first and worst are the poor. … That’s who we know we are defending,” he said.

The state’s legal efforts are not intended to set policy, but to curb federal regulatory abuses, said Cuccinelli. Elected legislators and presidents get to set their own policies, but don’t get to violate federal law, he said.

“This is not about policy. … [It is about] this administration’s disregard for the law,” he said. President Obama and his deputies, he added, are “the greatest set of lawbreakers that have run the federal government in our lifetimes.”

Nationwide, there are 24 Republican state attorneys general, and 23 who are Democrats.

The AGs cooperate on many cases, including in lawsuits against what they say is federal overreach on health care and environmental rules, and to protect their states’ ability to curb voter fraud. For example, 26 state have joined a lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s health care overhaul law.

Many lawsuits are bought by just one AG to overturn federal mandates that hit their states especially hard.

Texas’s AG, Greg Abbott, said he’s suing to reverse a surprise EPA regulatory energy-sector mandate that was based on evidence from a single site in Illinois.

“Texas is being stiff armed by the EPA at every turn…. [whose employees] impose a philosophical agenda that is beyond the bounds of the law,” he said. “States must use every tool in their arsenal to protect their citizens from this unprecedented federal overreach,” he said.

Texas is involved with 20 such cases, he told The Daily Caller.

Bondi said her state defeated a particularly expensive EPA mandate that sought to trump the state’s own regulation of nutrients in state rivers.

“We want clear waters without wrecking our economy,” she said, adding that her state is working on 10 lawsuits, including one intended to shield religious liberty from Obama’s Feb. 10 birth control edict to religious groups.

Arizona’s AG, Tom Horne, said he’s working on eight lawsuits against the federal government, including one opposing an Obama administration effort to strike down his state’s voter-fraud protections.

“They want illegal aliens to vote,” he said.

South Dakota’s AG, Marty Jackley, said the federal government is using Medicaid to impose massive new costs on the state, despite a ruling by the Supreme Court. “The federal government has turned that partnership into a dictatorship,” he said.

South Dakota is working on eight lawsuits.

Oklahoma’s AG, Scott Pruitt, is involved in four, including a lawsuit targeting EPA regulations that would boost state electricity costs by 20 percent. “The EPA knows they don’t have the authority to take this step. … [It is] a clear abuse of of power,” he said.

In Georgia, AG Sam Olens has joined with 14 other AGs to stop EPA air pollution rules that sideline state laws, and will cost jobs. “It is a rigged game against us,” and will force the state to begin importing energy, he said, adding that his office is conducting nine lawsuits.

“This president is costing jobs, not creating jobs,” Olens said.

Follow Neil on Twitter