State attorneys general have a complex relationship with the federal government, including the Department of Justice, local U.S. Attorneys, and other federal agencies. In most cases, attorneys general cooperate with federal agencies to carry out federal policy but in some cases and in some states attorneys general attempt to either challenge or prompt federal action. This section analyzes this complex and changing relationship.

We begin with the role of State attorneys general that everyone knows about today, namely, suing the federal government. Although people think of that as Republican AGs suing Obama and Democratic AGs suing Trump, it is more than that, and much older than that. Then, we look at the role of State attorneys general working with the federal government. Finally, we look at the ongoing case of Texas v. United States, in which both Republican and Democratic AGs are unhappy with federal government’s approach in the ACA under Trump.

I. AGs In Opposition to The Federal Government

  1. States Sue Over Acid Rain,” U.P.I., March 20, 1984

  2. States Flex Prosecutorial Muscle: AG’s Move Into What Was Once Federal Territory, Brooke A. Masters, Washington Post, Wednesday, January 12, 2005, Page 2005, Page A1

  3. Dylan Scott, Why GOP Attorneys General Are Suing Obama Over Any And Everything, February 19, 2015,

  4. Texas vs. the Feds – A Look at the Lawsuits

  5. Vivian Yee, “To combat Trump, Democrats Ready a G.O.P Tactic: Lawsuits,” New York Times, Dec. 14, 2016

  6. A Timeline of all the Times Attorney General Bob Ferguson Has Sued Trump

  7. “What will happen to DACA?  Federal court cases could lead to an answer,”  Washington Post

  8. Coral Davenport and Eric Lipton, “The Pruitt Emails: E.P.A. Chief Was Arm in Arm With Industry,” New York Times, Feb. 22, 2017  

II. Preemption

  1. Obama Preemption Order, The White House Office Of The Press Secretary May 20, 2009

  2. Gara, Antoine, Federal Judge Rules In Favor Of FTC Challenge To Sysco And US Foods Merger, Forbes, June 23, 2015

  3. Renewable Energy World, "Clean Energy in the Age of Trump Means Federal Preemption of State Incentives"

  4. “DeVos: States Don't Have Authority to Regulate Loan Servicers,” Inside Higher Ed, March 12 2018

  5. “After Scaling Back Student Loan Regulations, Administration Tries to Stop State Efforts” New York Times, Sept 9, 2018

  6. “Jeff Sessions Declares War on California’s “Extreme” New Neutrality Law,” Vanity Fair, October 1, 2018  

III. AG’s Dueling Approaches toward the Affordable Care Act in Texas v. United States

  1. AG Paxton and Wisconsin AG File 20-State Law­suit to End the Grip of Oba­macare on Texas and the Nation, Texas AG Office

  2. Texas et al. Brief in Support of Preliminary Injunction, April 26, 2018

  3. California et al., Brief in Opposition to Preliminary Injunction, June 7, 2018

  4. Federal Government Brief Concerning Preliminary Injunction

  5. Motions to Withdraw Appearances of DOJ Attorneys

  6. Judge Hears Oral Argument, Health Affairs Blog, September 10, 2018

  7. Meet the Judge Who Will Decide the ACA’s Fate, Law 360