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Eric Holder: State AGs not obligated to defend laws they disagree with as long as it’s one banning gay marriage

By Doug Powers  •  February 25, 2014 11:12 AM

**Written by Doug Powers

First, let’s all warm up by reciting the Obama Justice Department’s credo:


U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told the New York Times that state attorneys general should feel free to claim conscientious objector status from defending laws they don’t agree with. That is, provided the law is one that bans gay marriage in his or her state:

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said Monday that state attorneys general who believe that laws in their states banning same-sex marriage are discriminatory are not obligated to defend them.

Mr. Holder was careful not to encourage his state counterparts to disavow their own laws, but his position, which he described in an interview with The New York Times, injects the Obama administration into the debate over gay marriage playing out in court cases in many states.

Six state attorneys general – all Democrats – have refused to defend bans on same-sex marriage, prompting criticism from Republicans who say they have a duty to defend their state laws, not just the ones they agree with.

Is anybody else bothered that the U.S. attorney general is singling out which laws state attorneys general should feel free to pick and choose to defend?


It is highly unusual for the United States attorney general to advise his state counterparts on how and when to refuse to defend state laws. But Mr. Holder said when laws touch on core constitutional issues like equal protection, an attorney general should apply the highest level of scrutiny before reaching a decision on whether to defend it. He said the decision should never be political or based on policy objections.

Cue audience reaction:

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

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