Recently, the State of Politics blog reported on an interview with New York Attorney General Letitia “Tish” James.
According to the blog, Attorney General James “counts her first year in office as a success, racking up legislative victories for bills her office sought that limit the president’s pardon power, tighten regulations for data breaches and safeguards to prevent discrimination against immigrants in the workplace.” However, James expressed disappointment that “lawmakers could not reach a deal on marijuana legalization and a measure that would have legalized gestational surrogacy.”
New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms takes issue with Attorney General James’s remarks on multiple levels. First of all, we emphatically disagree with her positions on paid surrogacy and recreational marijuana. Second of all, we are concerned about the Attorney General’s apparent focus on matters that fall outside the scope of her responsibilities. The Attorney General is the state’s chief legal officer. As such, she is responsible for providing legal advice to the state, defending the state against lawsuits, and enforcing the laws on the books. However, Attorney General James seems inordinately focused on pushing for new state laws and grandstanding against President Donald Trump by taking the federal government to court. It’s inappropriate for the Attorney General to consider her first year in office (which isn’t even over yet) a success based on legislative activity. To put it simply, it’s not the Attorney General’s job to use her position to push a policy agenda.