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Spring 2023 Reading Group

Guns, Abortion and Climate Change – What is next for State AGs?

Prerequisites: Students must complete one of the following courses: Role of the State Attorney General; Federalism and States as Public Law Actors; Local Government Law; or State Constitutional Law

Exam Type: No Exam

This Reading Group explores the impact on all state attorneys general of three recently decided decisions of the United States Supreme Court that deal with abortion, climate change and gun violence.

The Court’s decision in Dobbs. v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization has forced state attorneys general of both political parties to reassess their responsibilities regarding reproductive rights. Dobbs is also driving state attorneys general to decide how to best address the issue with local district attorneys and the federal government.

The Court’s decision in West Virginia v. EPA is changing the way state government and attorneys general address their continued reliance on federal regulations that are now potentially being enjoined by federal judges who will be applying the “Major Question Doctrine.” The impact of West Virginia goes beyond environmental matters and extends into core attorney general duties of health, consumer protection and education.

The Court’s decision in NYS Rifle and Pistol Assoc. v. Bruen that struck down the New York City gun control statute is causing attorneys general to analyze the best ways forward in the fight against gun violence. New York City and the eight states and many cities who have similar statutes are now reaching out to their attorney general for guidance as to their immediate and long term options.

The class would involve an in depth review of Dobbs, West Virginia and Bruen as well as the emerging legal commentary. The class would also involve direct bipartisan virtual participation appearances of attorneys general and their senior staffs. The class would discuss how state attorneys general are reacting to all three of these decisions.

Note: This reading group will meet on the following dates: TBD.