Week 1 – September 10, 2018
The Authority and the Culture of the Role of the Attorney General
Syllabus: The Role of the State Attorney General
This first week explores the nature of the authority and the culture that pervades offices of attorney general. The first chapter of Walter Mondale's The Good Fight, which covers Mondale's time as the Attorney General of Minnesota over 50 years ago, serves as an introduction to the Role of the Attorney General. Used with the permission (and to the personal delight) of the author, this edited chapter combines almost all aspects of the office of attorney general, e.g., the common law, statutory authority, conflicting legal and policy demands, resource restriction, the role of academics and outside counsel, hard core partisan politics and personal ambition. The chapter is also testimony that for all of the changes in the legal and political world, some things remain remarkably the same.
Also included in this first week are edited sections of Paul Wilson's "A Time to Lose, Representing Kansas in Brown v. Board of Education," that depict a very different side of state attorney general authority that is also covered in the course.
The first week also contains readings that describe state "parens patriae" and the duty of state attorneys general to represent all the people of their states and not be limited to representing a specific state agency. Finally, it contains the reflections of two attorneys general who left office at the end of 2014.