State Sen. Norm Sanderson (R-Pamlico) told those attending the inaugural meeting of the Morehead-Beaufort Tea Party yesterday that the top leadership in both GOP-controlled branches of the legislature are working to remove Attorney General Roy Cooper from office, according to this report in The Carteret County News-Times.
Citing Cooper’s announcement in late July that his office would no longer defend the state’s same-sex marriage ban after the Fourth Circuit found Virginia’s similar law unconstitutional, Sanderson said:
“If he’s not going to defend what we, the citizens of North Carolina, want him to defend, we need to probably impeach him because he’s been a vocal opponent of the marriage amendment ever since it was passed.”
He added that steps are in place once Senate President Phil Berger and House Speaker Thom Tillis give the green light.
“Our leadership hasn’t made the final decision but everything is on ready, set, go if that’s what we want to do.”
Of course, doing what some lawmakers and citizens of the state want him to do is not the job of the Attorney General.
Here’s Jim Tierney, former Maine Attorney General and now director of the National State Attorneys General Program at Columbia Law School:
The simple truth is that attorney general refusal to defend happens all the time.
Legislatures are comprised in most states by non-lawyers trying to do the right thing, but they do not understand the complexity of constitutional limits. They are advised, but often plunge ahead — both liberals and conservatives — and make constitutional mistakes. It then falls to the attorney general to clean this mess up.
The attorney general is supposed to uphold the constitution – that’s his job.
And you want your attorney general telling the truth. If the attorney general in his view says ‘you’ve got some real constitutional issues here,’ I would think any governor would want to know that before he signs a bill.