Louisiana attorney general attacks Advocate in editorial

By Joe Dyton | Nov 27, 2016

NEW ORLEANS — Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry recently submitted an editorial to The Advocate in reaction to the publication’s critique of how he’s handling state policy.

The Advocate wrote that Landry was “confusing his role” with that of Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards. This criticism arose because Landry and Edwards are in court as a result of Landry attempting to block an order issued by Edwards that bans anti-gay discrimination by the state and its contractors.

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry   Attorney General's Office

The publication claimed Edwards is right on the merits of the issue and that Landry is overstepping his bounds. As attorney general, he represents the state from a legal perspective, but it’s the governor who has the final word when it comes to policies and objectives of the state, The Advocate stated.

In its editorial, The Advocate pointed to an article prominent Louisiana lawyer Frank Simoneaux wrote for the newspaper that referenced a college desegregation case. Simoneaux wrote, “The average citizen probably assumes he votes for the governor as the official who will have the final say as to policies and objectives of the state within the confines of the concerned statutes and constitutional provisions. Likewise, he votes for the attorney general as a lawyer state, not as one who selects positions or policies for the state.”

Landry wrote a rebuttal claiming that the Advocate has ignored the facts.

“I ran for attorney general to protect our families, our freedoms and the rule of law,” Landry wrote. “The role of the state’s chief legal officer is clearly defined in the constitution today as it was when I declared my candidacy. Yet it seems the editors of this paper want to quibble over the definition of what ‘is’ is.”

The attorney general went on to explain how Article 4, Section 8 of the state’s constitution, “declares the attorney general as the chief legal officer of the state” and “as necessary for the assertion or protection of any right or interest of the state, the attorney general shall have the authority to institute, prosecute or intervene in any civil action or proceeding; upon the written request of a district attorney, to advise and assist in the prosecution of any criminal case, and for cause, when authorized by the court, which would have original jurisdiction and subject to judicial review,  to institute, prosecute, or intervene in any criminal action or proceeding, or to supersede any attorney representing the state in any civil or criminal action.”

Landry wrote that "One of the most basic, practical lessons learned in the first week of high school civics class is the supremacy of the constitution."

"This is not a complicated algorithm no matter how hard the editorial board tries to opine," he wrote.

Landry also stated that The Advocate and other state mainstream media outlets continue to keep “confusing a constitutional argument with the governor’s policy position to advance transgender bathroom mandates and other matters that have not been adopted by our legislature.”

“Although I oppose the governor’s position, our case is not about that policy,” Landry wrote. “The issue before the court is whether a governor may ignore the will of the legislature and other constitutionally protected elected officials.”

Landry also pointed out that, “circumvention of the constitution is something this paper deemed, ‘desperate’ and ‘political’ when our former Republican governor did it.’" He pointed to Stephanie Grace who wrote that the governor, “cannot unilaterally make law; the power that lies within the legislative branch. Even in emergencies and other rare instances in which a governor is granted extraordinary powers, courts have proved he cannot ‘enact substantive law.’”

“We have a process for making law and that process is paramount to political agendas,” Landry wrote. “Until the law is changed, I will continue to fulfill my responsibility -- as a constitutionally independent elected officer of Louisiana — of ensuring the separation of powers and the rule of law are upheld.”

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