Fred Barnes writing for the Weekly Standard suggests, “President Obama’s legacy is in jeopardy. The fates of his main achievements—Obamacare, his amnesty for five million illegal immigrants, the Dodd-Frank financial institution reforms—are now in the hands of the federal courts.
“This is extraordinary. Until Obama, no president has been in a situation in which judges rather than the elected branches of government can decide if his successful initiatives—successful in having been enacted by Congress or himself—live or die,” Barnes notes.
The instigators of putting Obama in a legal box are Republican state attorneys general. Once they began banding together in lawsuits to protect states from encroachments by the federal government, they became a powerful force and a thorn in Obama’s side.
There are 27 of them, a majority of state AGs. And they are determined to elect three more in the next two years. When they met in Washington last week, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell showed up to encourage them. He committed himself to help elect a GOP attorney general in Kentucky’s odd-year election this November.
“We haven’t had a Republican attorney general in Kentucky since World War II,” McConnell said. Little attention was paid to the office, he said, except by trial lawyers who were “focused like a laser on [electing] Democrats.” The current AG, Jack Conway, is term-limited. So the seat will be open.
The prize in last November’s election was Adam Laxalt of Nevada, the grandson of Paul Laxalt, the former senator and governor. Nevada is a swing state and Adam Laxalt, 36, won in a squeaker—251,539 to 246,671. He immediately joined 25 other Republican AGs in a lawsuit challenging Obama’s immigration actions as unconstitutional. A federal judge in Texas ruled in the AGs’ favor in February. The Obama administration has appealed.
Laxalt’s participation irritated Nevada’s Republican governor Brian Sandoval, who supports comprehensive immigration reform. He “continues to believe that the best course of action is a legislative solution rather than legal action,” Sandoval’s spokesman said. Laxalt didn’t need the governor’s approval. Under Nevada law, the attorney general is an independent figure, not the governor’s underling.
The rise of the Republican AGs began in 2010, when they sued to stop Obamacare. They failed, but won limits on Medicaid expansion and neutralized the use of the commerce clause to broaden the reach of the federal government.