Charlie Mitchell: AG makes decisions about law

Earlier this month, Attorney General Jim Hood announced (on Facebook) that he would not appeal a federal judge’s decision blocking House Bill 1523, the state’s newly minted religious freedom law. Reactions came from Gov. Phil Bryant and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves. Both were, well, disingenuous.

Jim Hood’s discretion as AG is well settled. Further, Hood was a named defendant in the case. That clearly gives him the right to decide whether to object to the ruling, same as it would for any person.

Still, in his statement Bryant said he was “disappointed” Hood “abandoned his duty to defend the constitutionality of a duly enacted statute.” A statement from Reeves’ office added, “Sad day when Jim Hood no longer fights to protect our religious freedom.”

Bryant indicated Hood had a legal or perhaps moral or ethical duty to appeal. He doesn’t. Period. The “duty” of attorneys general has never been to a governor or Legislature. Witness the fact that, when lawmakers felt they needed lawyers during this year’s session, they hired private attorneys.

Clarion Ledger
7/26/16