Silicon Valley Courts Brand-Name Teachers, Raising Ethics Issues

‘Any time you are paying a public employee to promote a product in the public classroom without transparency, then that’s problematic,’ said James E. Tierney, a former attorney general of Maine who is a lecturer at Harvard Law School. ‘Should attorneys general be concerned about this practice? The answer is yes.’

67 Former State Attorneys General Have a Message: Condemn Hate Bluntly

‘We’re politicians; we do what we have to do to get elected, but, you know, we draw the line. And Bill drew the line,’ Mr. Tierney said. ‘We wanted to give his courageous act voice at a time when the country needs to hear that there are courageous voices.’

What Happens When the Attorney General Refuses to Defend a Law?

When he was Maine’s attorney general back in the 1990s, Tierney refused to defend a state law he felt was without merit. The state Supreme Court upheld his authority to exercise judgment about which state laws to defend and which ones to leave alone. It may seem problematic to have AGs decide on their own which state laws can stand up to scrutiny, but ultimately someone has to make the call. The American system of governance is all about splitting power. When it comes to legal matters, the attorney general is most often going to be the one who has the final word.

Opioids As The New Big Tobacco

‘[I]f you’re going to get money, don’t make the mistake in tobacco and let it be used by whatever the legislature wants. They’ll use it to pave roads.’

James Tierney interviewed on recent lawsuits by state attorneys general against opioid manufacturers that are reminiscent of lawsuits brought by states in the 1990s against the tobacco industry.

Ailsa Chang, "Opioids As The New Big Tobacco," Morning Edition: Planet Money, NPR, June 30, 2017.

Ohio Opioid Suit Echoes Tobacco Cases

‘Opioids aren’t tobacco,’ said James Tierney, a former Maine attorney general who was a consultant to the states suing the tobacco industry and helped coordinate their legal and press strategy[...]Opioids, when used medically to relieve pain, can have significant health benefits. ‘Opioids aren’t an inherently evil product,’ said Mr. Tierney. ‘Tobacco companies could never come in and say tobacco products are good for you. There are legitimate purposes for opioids.’

Governors, Attorneys General Clash Amid Political Tensions

The offices of state attorneys general are supposed to serve as a check on power, which has historically triggered fights and lawsuits with governors—including some battles within party lines. ‘The friction is there on purpose, it’s there in the Constitution,’ said James Tierney, a lecturer at Harvard Law School.

Dem AGs join front lines of Trump opposition

James Tierney, who fought the Reagan administration on acid rain prevention as Maine’s Democratic attorney general, said the legal fights have grown more partisan over the years.

‘It used to be we did this all on a bipartisan basis,’ he said.

‘I was a Democrat, but the Vermont AG [John Easton] was a Republican, and we frankly didn’t notice much whether somebody was a Democrat or Republican, we just went in and did it.’

The Hour of the Attorneys General

‘It’s actually much less complicated than reporters think it is,’ Tierney says. ‘If someone does not enforce the law, then someone has to do something about it. We haven’t even begun to see what cases will be dropped, what unfair settlements will be struck—but people are watching very closely. And if [Trump] operates in a way that impacts the sovereignty or the proprietary interests of the citizens of the state, AGs will sue.’

Hawaii Sues to Block Trump Travel Ban; First Challenge to Order

James E. Tierney, a former attorney general of Maine who works extensively with current state attorneys general, said most Democrats were approaching Mr. Trump’s new order cautiously.

Mr. Tierney, a Democrat, said state lawyers were “researching the constitutionality” of the order before settling on a public course of action.

“They believe strongly that just because they don’t like something, doesn’t mean it is unconstitutional,” Mr. Tierney said.
  • Alexander Burns, “Hawaii Sues to Block Trump Travel Ban; First Challenge to Order,” The New York Times, March 8, 2017.

Democratic attorneys general lead the charge against Trump

‘The AGs consider themselves a thin blue line against federal overreach, there’s no question about it,’ said James Tierney, the former attorney general of Maine who runs a blog about state attorneys general.

There are 23 Democratic state attorneys general, including the District of Columbia, and 27 Republicans. Alaska’s attorney general is an independent.

About 10 Democratic AGs, grouped on the East and West coasts, are known to take a more activist role in suing the federal government, Tierney said. Some others would be more active but Republican Legislatures have curtailed their power and resources.

Tierney advises many of the Democrats coordinating their efforts against Trump. The group is braced to file more suits in coming months.

‘It’s actually an essential part of federalism in that attorneys general will hold the president’s feet to the fire,’ Tierney said.

AGs Ready to Take On Trump

Trump doesn’t come to office with a clean slate when it comes to relations with attorneys general. [New York Attorney General Eric] Schneiderman helped negotiate a $25 million settlement immediately after the election regarding allegations of fraud involving Trump University….

‘Donald Trump, citizen, not Donald Trump, president, enters the world of AGs on a watch list,’ says James Tierney, a former Maine attorney general who now teaches at Harvard University. ‘He ran a routine, garden-variety fraud — Trump University — and he was caught. Every attorney general I’ve talked to has had complainants in his state. Everybody opened files. When somebody’s a fraudster, they get on everybody’s agenda. It changes the way you look at him or her.’

To Combat Trump, Democrats Ready a G.O.P. Tactic: Lawsuits

People are coming up to me and saying, ‘What’s going to happen?’ said James E. Tierney, a former attorney general of Maine, who ran a program studying attorneys general at Columbia Law School. Mr. Tierney, a Democrat, now lectures at Harvard Law School. ‘There’s a lot of eye-rolling down here, in both parties, like, ‘Oh my God.’

In Exxon Case, Judge Cancels Massachusetts AG’s Dallas Deposition

‘The implications of this are really, really serious,’ said Mr. Tierney, a Democrat who has worked with attorneys general of both political parties, noting that he believes the effect is that it ‘chills all legitimate investigations. ‘This isn’t about Exxon. This is about an attempt to chill government’s ability to investigate malfeasance.’

Conservatives pour money into races for state attorneys general

‘The amount of money is staggering,”’ said James Tierney, a former Maine attorney general and an adjunct professor at Harvard Law School who blames the Citizens United ruling, which lifted limits on corporate political contributions. ‘But that’s because it’s legal, and it’s legal because the Supreme Court said it was legal.’

Conservative Effort to Challenge Obama Programs Is Weakened By Scalia’s Death

In light of the sudden passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, James Tierney notes that decisions on pending cases involving a coalition of Republican attorneys general are now up in the air.  

Michigan GOPer Investigating Flint Water Crisis Also Defending State Against Flint Lawsuit

Using the investigation into Flint’s water crisis, James Tierney explains that state attorneys general often find themselves on opposite sides of the same case. Tierney discusses the options available to a state attorney general under such circumstances.

Exxon Inquiry Both Mirrors and Contrasts With Tobacco Industry Case

‘The issue with Exxon, just as it was with tobacco, is what did they know and when did they know it,’ Mr. Tierney said. ‘If internal documents at Exxon show that they deliberately misled consumers and investors, then Exxon has potential liability.’ But, he added, ‘If the documents do not exist, then Exxon has nothing to worry about.’

It’s Illinois vs. Illinois in Supreme Court Duel for Justices Attention

Tierney tells the New York Times that the “law in Illinois is clearly on the side of the attorney general” when it comes to who represents the state its officials, and the state’s litigation positions in court.