Eager to assert their newfound power,
But on the day it went to Gov.
It was the first hint that Cooper's resistance to
In recent weeks, state and national
It has become a central theme of the McCrory campaign.
"It's amazing that the attorney general will not fulfill the oath of his office to defend our laws of
Cooper says the concern is unfounded and Republican leaders are wasting state money by hiring private lawyers. There are more than two dozen lawsuits that Cooper's staff has defended since the
In addition, the
"Attorneys in the
History of fighting
He asked the nonpartisan legislative services staff for its legal opinion. The staff concluded a strong argument could be made that
The staff in an analysis noted state law requires the attorney general "to appear for the State in any other court or tribunal in any cause or matter, civil or criminal, in which the State may be a party or interested." It would be appropriate for Cooper to defend the bill if it became law, the staff concluded.
Stam and other
"It is a shame we had to file this brief because our governor and attorney general refused to defend the constitutional right of North Carolinians,"
Stam's beef with Cooper goes back to a campaign finance lawsuit he brought on behalf of
"If it's something his side wants, he's fighting tooth and nail all the way, even if it doesn't have a chance of winning," Stam said.
Cooper's refusal to continue to defend some laws has infuriated
"It's like a baseball team who has won all the way to the sixth inning, then in the seventh the other side ties it up and so they quit," Stam said. "Lawyers don't do that. They don't abandon their client in the middle of litigation."
The long-running battle between conservatives and Cooper flared up in March when the attorney general announced he would not defend against constitutional challenges to House Bill 2, the controversial law that restricted LGBT protections. Cooper said it would be a conflict for him to represent the state because his own department and the State Treasurer's office have anti-discrimination policies.
Part of a trend
Cooper says he isn't the problem.
"Over the last few years the
Cooper said doing his job doesn't mean appealing every case to the
"When you have three federal circuit court judges who tell you that a law with surgical precision has intentionally discriminated against African-Americans, it's time to stop," he said, "and it's time to reassess what has been done."
Cooper noted the governor has the authority to hire outside counsel, and the legislature gave itself that authority in 2013. But he said it concerns him when multiple attorneys are hired to do what the state already pays his office to do.
Cooper isn't the only attorney general in the country bucking legislators and governors, but it is a recent trend.
A Yale Law Review study last year found the trend began in 2008 with
"I don't think there's any right answer to what the attorney general should or shouldn't do," co-author
But his record on defending lawsuits isn't the only criticism Cooper's opponents bring up. They also criticize him for his supervision of the
The extent of the problems didn't surface until nine years later, when the
The audit found 230 blood-evidence cases had been tainted, all but a few of them involving cases that had been closed before Cooper arrived.
Agent misconduct led to the state and its insurers paying more than
"Cooper's failure to fix problems at the
Cooper is not criticized for doing his job when it comes to consumer protection. He made that a hallmark of his tenure as attorney general, saying he learned while working in his father's small law practice that people who had been harmed needed help. That has translated to prosecuting banks and pharmaceutical companies when they have cheated consumers.
Most recently, Cooper's office won
"He's one of a handful of attorneys general across the country who is active in consumer protection," said
"People really look to
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