The Federalist Society helpfully hosted a panel discussion today on the on-going abuse of power by state attorneys general – otherwise known as attorney general activism. You know, the same group elected officials who brought the tobacco settlement down on us. The $240 billion partnership between the states and Big Tobacco (which CEI is challenging in court).
Not that it’s the only bogus lawsuit brought on by state AGs and their trial lawyer buddies. Apparently cranberries can be an AG target. Wisconsin’s current AG, J.B. Van Hollen, relayed the tale of how his predecessor suited a cranberry grower, alleging that the cranberry bogs were a “public nuissance” under Common Law. The ousted AG in question, Peg Lautenschlager, was on CEI’s list of worst attorneys general (not surprisingly).
Other AG lawsuits are equally as bogus but far less amusing. Internet service providers, social networking websites (like MySpace and Facebook), car manufacturers, electric utilities — all targets of meritless AG lawsuits. Former California AG (now state treasurer) Bill Lockyer led a lawsuit alleging that cars are a public nuisance, inflicted by manufacturers. Ironic, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers noted on today’s panel, that the state had spent so many years building highways…for cars.
The list is long, but you can peruse many of the scurrilous stories in Hans Bader’s report, The Nation’s Top Ten Worst State Attorneys General.
Not of (last year’s) baddies were on hand today, unfortunately. Today, in addition to the AGs from Colorado and Wisconsin, we had the Virginia AG Bob McDonnell, the former Nebraska AG Donald Sterngerg, and the Federalist Society’s pro bono director, Peggy Little. One AG even waived the report in the air and said he’s relieved not to see his name on the baddie list! Well, General McDonnell, there’s always the next report to worry about!
See also – Hans Bader’s blog post about the event!