WASHINGTON – Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne joined other attorneys general Monday to criticize the Obama administration’s “unprecedented” overreach of federal authority that they said have led to a torrent of lawsuits over immigration, voting rights, health care and more.
Horne and eight others representing the Republican Attorneys General Association said they are being forced to engage in numerous lawsuits with the federal government because of the administration’s disregard for states’ rights.
“We all have a large number of lawsuits against the federal government . . . dealing not with policy disagreements but what we think are unconstitutional actions by the federal government,” Horne said.
A request for comment from the Justice Department was not returned. But the White House called claims of federal overreach unsubstantiated.
“President Obama approved fewer regulations in the first three years of his presidency than George W. Bush did in his,” said White House spokesman Eric Shultz in a prepared statement.
“But there is no question that past regulations are outdated, unnecessary, or too costly,” Schultz said. “That is why the president ordered every federal agency to eliminate rules that don’t make sense.”
As a result, he said, the administration has “already identified 500 changes, just a fraction of which will save business and citizens more than $10 billion over the next five years.”
But the Republican attorneys general were focused less on regulatory burden and more on what they called the administration’s “violations of the law,” including the federal health-care overhaul that more than half the states are challenging.
Horne said Arizona is currently tangled with the federal government in eight cases, including challenges to SB 1070, the state’s omnibus immigration law that will be heard by the Supreme Court in April.
He specifically discussed two lawsuits in Arizona: One concerns a law that would increase voter identification requirements and another deals with a law to let workers cast votes on union matters by secret ballot. The federal government has challenged both.
“Not only are they unwilling to properly do their job on the border – and they sue us when we try to help at the border – but now they want illegal aliens to vote and they’re arguing in the court of appeals for that purpose,” Horne said of the voting ID law.
“That’s really outside our Constitution to have people who are not citizens voting,” he said.
He said he believes Arizona is targeted by the Obama administration because the state is in 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, what Horne called the “most liberal circuit” in the country.
Several attorneys general on the panel said Obama’s federal overreach was the worst they had witnessed in their lifetimes. South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson took it a step further, calling Obama’s overreach “the worst in the history of this country.”
“You throw a frog in hot water, it’ll jump out. If you put a frog into lukewarm water and slowly turn up the heat, that frog will boil to death,” Wilson said.
“You’re seeing a slow boil, an erosion of state sovereignty and individual liberties by this administration,” he said.
Arizona vs. the Feds
The Arizona Attorney General’s Office said it currently has eight legal disputes with the federal government:
1. Gila River Indian Community, et.al., v. United States of America, et.al.: Over the Interior Department’s decision to designate 54 acres in Glendale as tribal land.
2. United States of America v. State of Arizona: The Justice Department’s challenge of Arizona’s SB 1070 immigration law.
3. State of Florida, et al v. United States Department of Health and Human Services: The states’ lawsuit – Arizona joined the suit in April 2010 – to nullify the administration’s health-care bill.
4. State of Arizona v. United States of America: Filed by state over the feds’ response to medical marijuana dispensaries. Dismissed by a Maricopa County judge last month.
5. National Labor Relations Board v. State of Arizona: A federal challenge to the voter-approved state constitution amendment to allow a secret ballot on union certification votes.
6. State of Arizona v. Eric Holder: State suit against the U.S. attorney general claiming sections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 are unconstitutional.
7. AzELLA – DOJ 169-8-81 and OCR 08064006: The Justice Department’s Office of Civil Rights claimed the English Language Learner Assessment in state schools is insufficient.
8. SEI Models – OCR 08104046-B: The Office of Civil Rights claimed the state’s Structured English Immersion program effectively segregates students from regular classwork.
Source: Arizona Attorney General’s Office