Ark. GOP AG Candidate: Hiring Conservative Lawyers 'Discrimination'

Ark. GOP AG Candidate: Hiring Conservative Lawyers 'Discrimination'

In the contentious GOP Arkansas Attorney General runoff, David Sterling has vowed to hire conservative lawyers to help him fight the federal government’s overreach. His Republican opponent Leslie Rutledge thinks that could be discriminatory. 

Days before the June 10 runoff election in Arkansas, the Judicial Crisis Network is going up with a television ad and distributing voter guides that highlight their differences.

Sterling has said that he would create a task force on government overreach and pursue “some smart, aggressive, conservative attorneys that understand the 10th Amendment, understand our system of federalism that limits the role of our government in Washington D.C. and grants broad authority to individuals and help identify federal laws, federal regulations, executive orders that violate the 10th Amendment.”

“And then once those are identified, we would seek to file a lawsuit in federal court challenging the constitutionality of those overreaching laws,” Sterling said, according to the Associated Press.

Rutledge, Sterling’s opponent, has suggested that doing so may be an act of “discrimination,” telling the Associated Press that it could “open yourself for potential lawsuits or accusations of discrimination if you’re outright saying we’re going to hire conservative attorneys.” Rutledge also does not support a “stand your ground” law for the state, and she has come under fire before the June 10 runoff for her more liberal positions.

Carrie Severino, the Judicial Crisis Network‘s Policy Director and Chief Counsel, told Breitbart News that conservatives should be skeptical that Rutledge’s first instinct was to reflexively think that it may be discriminatory to hire conservative lawyers who want to combat the Obama administration’s overreach. 

“That should concern anyone who believes that defending our liberty and way of life will require the best and brightest lawyers who believe in limited, constitutional government,” Severino, who clerked for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, said. “Maybe Leslie is afraid to endorse that position because she knows she wouldn’t even qualify.”

The Judicial Crisis Network has also focused on Rutledge’s refusal to support a “Stand Your Ground” law for Arkansas. One previous commercial called Rutledge “arrogant” for believing that law-abiding Arkansans “have a duty to retreat” outside their home when their lives are threatened. They have sent out mailers tying her to President Barack Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

Even in responding to the attacks, Rutledge, who was a staffer for the establishment National Republican Congressional Committee in Washington, D.C. and even voted in the Democrat primary as late as 2006, has never expressed support for a “Stand Your Ground” law.

The Weekly Standard‘s Fred Barnes noted last year why it was so important for conservatives to elect the right Attorneys General in the states. Barnes observed that Republican Attorneys General, “who often attack the administration in packs, have done more than Republicans in Congress, statehouses, or anywhere else to block, cripple, undermine, or weaken Obama’s initiatives.” 

He said they are “a scourge of President Obama. They drive the Environmental Protection Agency crazy. They’ve beaten the best lawyers at the Justice Department numerous times.”

“In effect, the administration has been put on notice: If you adopt policies inconsistent with constitutional limits and the rule of law, Republican attorneys general will come after you,” he continued. 

Conservatives think that Sterling, who has spent 15 years practicing law in Arkansas and has handled over 40 cases in federal courts, has the experience and toughness to effectively put the Obama administration on notice. They aren’t so sure about Rutledge, who has not handled a case in federal court, spent time as a D.C. insider, and reflexively thinks that hiring conservative lawyers may be discriminatory.