In its Friday editorial, the state’s largest daily newspaper states clearly what anyone paying any attention to Attorney General Jeff Landry can clearly see: His election to statewide office last year has already gone to his head.
In legal matters, he’s asserting his authority to make state policy, but alas — as courts have held in different ways since 1882 — he is confusing his role with that of Gov. John Bel Edwards.
The two, potential rivals in the 2019 governor’s election, are back in court. The attorney general used his authority to review lawyers’ contracts with the state to attempt to block an Edwards order banning anti-gay discrimination by the state and its contractors.
We believe Edwards is right on the merits of that issue, but it’s also important that the process be understood, not least by Landry.
There is little that is entirely new under the sun. There has always been the potential for tension between an elected attorney general, who is the state’s chief legal officer, and a governor. The latter’s power and role is expansive, compared to most states in the Union.
The disputes between governors and AGs go back as far as the 19th century. One of Louisiana’s most prominent lawyers, Frank Simoneaux, of Baton Rouge, wrote about a similar 1990 dispute — and he noted an 1882 precedent.
Generally, Simoneaux said, the attorney general should be independent in investigative matters or prosecuting crime, but that in civil and policy matters the AG should recognize that his role is as a lawyer.
Not, in other words, the decision-maker about the merits of a case.
So back off, Jeff, before you make more of an ass out of yourself than you already have (ok, those are our words, not The Advocate’s.) Not to mention that he doesn’t seem to be taking care of his own business while instead choosing to meddle in the affairs of the governor, as The Advocate also reported today that the state could be forced to pony up more than $25,000 because of a legal maneuver Landry attempted to stave off a deposition in a public records lawsuit filed against his office.
Read the full editorial here.