WaPo: Democratic AGs are Using the Courts to Win on Abortion, Gun Control

May 1, 2023

Washington, DC — Democratic Attorneys General have long been on the front lines of the legal fight to protect the rights and freedoms of Americans and challenge Republican-led efforts that curtain those rights. And in recent years, they’ve been winning big. Look no further than Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson. As Washington Post’s Scott Wilson put it, “For six years, Ferguson pushed a ban on assault-style weapons in Washington’s legislature. Each year, the proposal failed to make it out of committee — until this one. In April, the legislature passed the bill and Gov. Jay Inslee (D) signed it into law.”

The Post continues, “Ferguson is one of several Democratic attorneys general moving aggressively on key social policy issues to blunt Republican initiatives across the country designed to loosen gun restrictions, outlaw abortion and curtail the rights of transgender residents.”

The Democratic effort, shaped by previous opposition to the Trump administration, is creating what amounts to a series of state sanctuaries for those threatened by Republican laws. It also reflects a sense among the Democratic state attorneys general that a divided Congress is too deadlocked to pass any significant social policy legislation or impose civil rights protections.

“‘During the Trump administration we saw a lot of attacks on rights, and we are now continuing that battle,’ said Geoff Burgan, communications director for the Democratic Attorneys General Association. ‘But Congress is a dead end, and working together against red states is being done directly and proven much more effective.’” 

“The Democratic effort has taken on fresh urgency from recent federal court rulings, most notably the Supreme Court’s decision last year to end the federal right to abortion, and laws enacted by Republican governors and state legislators that Democrats view as extreme.”

In Arizona, AG Kris Mayes is also helping to protect rights and freedoms. “Abortion played a central role in the race. Since winning, Mayes has set up Arizona’s first reproductive rights unit within the attorney general’s office. ‘A big reason why I am sitting in this chair right now is because Republicans tried to undermine reproductive rights in this country,’ Mayes said.”

In Oregon, [AG Ellen] Rosenblum is addressing gun control, abortion guarantees and transgender rights, the three most pressing national social policy issues. Now in her third term, Rosenblum is lobbying hard for a package of gun-control measures in the legislature that would ban ‘ghost guns,’ firearms without serial numbers that are extremely difficult to trace, and raise the age limit for possessing a gun from 18 to 21 years old.”

“‘It’s an extension of the work we did during the Trump administration,’ said Ferguson, who sued the previous administration 99 times. ‘Those four years under Trump fortified the Democratic attorneys generals, and that’s why you are seeing successes now.’”


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