California Hires Eric Holder To Resist Trump In The Courts

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Kevin Daley Supreme Court correspondent
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The California state legislature has retained former Attorney General Eric Holder to lead the state’s resistance to the incoming Trump administration in the courts.

Holder, now an attorney in private practice at Covington & Burling, has emerged as a principle coordinator of Democratic reorganization efforts in the aftermath of the party’s stunning losses during the Obama-era.

The former AG will chair the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, a DNC affiliate which aims to help Democrats capitalize on congressional and state legislative redistricting after the 2020 census. President Barack Obama has indicated the group will be the primary focus of his political activity after he leaves the White House on Jan. 20.

Democrats in California anticipate staging legal challenges to the Trump White House across a wide-spectrum of policy areas, in much the same way as Texas played primary antagonist to the Obama administration in the federal courts. Texas attorneys general Ken Paxton and Greg Abbott successfully stymied administration efforts on immigration, health care, and energy regulations. Rep. Xavier Becerra, a senior House Democrat, will serve as state attorney general. (RELATED: Supreme Court Weighs Petition To Rein In Obama’s Most Powerful Agency)

“In the next four years, Californians and our laws will encounter substantial challenges from the next President and his administration,” state lawmakers said. “Our next Attorney General will have great responsibility for protecting Californians and our values, and defending our laws.”

The state has a jurisdictional advantage which may aggravate the incoming administration. If California follows Texas’ example, state lawyers will engage in so-called “venue-shopping” which occurs when lawyers bring a lawsuit in a particular court where they are likely to achieve a favorable result. From there, an appeal will most likely proceed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, perhaps the most progressive federal appeals court in the country. As a result, key Trump initiatives could flounder in the federal courts for years, making the Holder hire all the more significant.

“Having the former attorney general of the United States brings us a lot of firepower in order to prepare to safeguard the values of the people of California,” said Kevin de León, president of the California senate. “This means we are very, very serious.”

“I am honored that the Legislature chose Covington to serve as its legal adviser as it considers how to respond to potential changes in federal law that could impact California’s residents and policy priorities,” Holder said in a statement. “I am confident that our expertise across a wide array of federal legal and regulatory issues will be a great resource to the Legislature.”

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