A coalition of state attorneys general delivered a letter to President Joe Biden warning that these actions might warrant an all-out legal war between the states they represent and him.
The letter, signed by six attorneys general, puts the Biden administration on notice that any actions that might exceed their statutory authority, are inconsistent with constitutional tenets, or place civil liberties at risk could trigger legal action by the states.
“We stand ready to meet with your administration to discuss more how the issues below affect our States; litigation is never first option, and we would like to help your team in its important job on behalf of all Americans, consistent with the Constitution and the rule of law,” West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who is leading the group, wrote in the letter addressed to the White House.
“Yet if you sign unconstitutional laws passed by Congress, it will be our responsibility and duty to challenge those laws in court. If cabinet officials, executive officers, and agencies go beyond the bounds of their statutory authority, fail to follow legally required procedures, or fall short of the bedrock Administrative Procedure Act obligation of reasoned decision making, it will likewise be our responsibility to take action.”
The Administrative Procedure Act is a federal law that governs the process for agency rulemaking and has been frequently invoked to challenge executive branch rules and regulations.
Morrisey is joined by attorneys general from Arkansas, Indiana, Mississippi, Montana, and Texas.
The serious warning to Biden comes as he has signed a fury of executive orders over his first week in office, many of which have come questionably close to being unconstitutional.
Other orders have drawn widespread scrutiny, such as the decision to rejoin the Paris climate agreement, as well as the decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline, which is expected to put thousands of jobs at risk and undermine the U.S. relationship with Canada.
The Biden administration has also met with backlash for embracing a quasi-Marxist critical race theory in its policies seeking to prioritize certain racial groups that have historically met with disadvantage.
Similarly, Biden’s order addressing discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation is expected to threaten the constitutional freedom to exercise one’s religious beliefs for individuals and organizations who affirm the traditional understanding of people as created biologically male and female.
“The President cannot cut constitutional corners or shirk statutory strictures without inevitably doing more harm to our country than good,” the attorneys general wrote. “The foundations of our republic and American life are embedded within our Constitution’s carefully crafted design.”
“Accordingly, today by this letter we respectfully urge you when pursuing your policy priorities to honor the core constitutional tenets which should be appreciated and respected by every person entrusted with the honor and burdens of the presidency.”
The letter notes the freedom of religion and religious expression, and the right to bear arms as two areas of concern.
The attorneys general stated that while there is always pressure for U.S. presidents and Congress to exceed their power “lest they be judged to be ignoring important issues or failing to address critical problems,” it’s a president’s duty to uphold the U.S. Constitution’s separation of powers as well as respect the sovereignty of the states.