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James Tierney

  • Presidential Pardons Might Not End Russia Prosecutions

    August 30, 2017

    President Donald Trump’s unusual pardon of former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, issued before his federal case was even finished, has sparked a debate over whether the president could end Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe with a spate of pre-emptive pardons. But even mass pardons of all suspects in the Russia case would not close the door to potential prosecutions...Prosecuting agents of a foreign power, however, is different than making a potential case against agents of the United States. "It could happen," [James] Tierney says. "If the [district attorney] of Baltimore wants to go after the president, is that destabilizing? Yes it is." Tierney, who now teaches about the role of state attorneys general at Harvard Law School, adds, "The actual legal and practical obstacles to bringing this kind of case are very high."

  • 67 Former State Attorneys General Have a Message: Condemn Hate Bluntly

    August 28, 2017

    With white supremacists emboldened and a national spotlight shining on bigotry and hate, 67 former state attorneys general are calling on Americans and their leaders to condemn hatred unequivocally. Follow the example, they suggest, that an Alabama attorney general set four decades ago...The statement — which was released Monday and is conspicuously addressed not to President Trump or any other official, but rather to the broad, unnamed public — begins, “There are times in the life of a nation, or a president, or a state attorney general, when one is called upon to respond directly to the voice of hate.” Mr. Baxley’s example, it continues, without directly quoting it, should serve as inspiration for “all who seek to equivocate in times of moral crisis.” Mr. Baxley “obviously spoke with real clarity — he just made it as clear as a human being can make it,” said James E. Tierney, a former Maine attorney general who helped pull the joint statement together.

  • Without Obama to Sue, What Are Republican AGs Up To?

    August 28, 2017

    Just a few months ago, Republican attorneys general were aggressively taking the Obama administration to court, notching significant victories that blocked executive actions on immigration and the environment. Now that Donald Trump sits in the Oval Office, it's Democrats' turn to wage legal battles over some of the very same issues...Democratic officials say the party's AG ranks are more active than they were under the last Republican president, George W. Bush. And in solidly blue states where Democrats have control over all the levers of government, money is flowing to the AG office, says former Maine Attorney General James Tierney, who is now a Harvard Law School lecturer focusing on state AGs.

  • Governors, Attorneys General Clash Amid Political Tensions

    May 19, 2017

    Around the U.S., cross-party battles between governors and attorneys general are heating up in what some observers see as another sign of increasingly divisive national politics seeping into state offices...In 13 states, governors and attorneys general currently have different party affiliations. The offices of state attorneys general are supposed to serve as a check on power, which has historically triggered fights and lawsuits with governors—including some battles within party lines. “The friction is there on purpose, it’s there in the Constitution,” said James Tierney, a lecturer at Harvard Law School.

  • Janet Mills Joins Democratic Attorneys General to Fight Trump Environmental Proposals

    May 1, 2017

    Maine Attorney General Janet Mills has joined Democratic colleagues from other states in filing legal challenges aimed at stopping the Trump administration from weakening environmental regulations. The suits reflect a growing trend of partisan alliances among states’ attorneys general...Former Maine Attorney General James Tierney, who now teaches at Harvard Law School, says attorneys general have historically cooperated on various legal issues affecting the states without regard to partisan affiliation. “States are supposed to be different than the federal government, that’s why our country is set up that way. So there is always going to be friction between state governments and the federal government regardless of who is the president,” he says.

  • Blue-state attorneys general lead Trump resistance

    February 8, 2017

    With Washington, D.C., in turmoil during the opening weeks of the Trump administration, state attorneys general have emerged as the vanguard of resistance to the new presidency...“The AGs consider themselves a thin blue line against federal overreach, there’s no question about it,” said James Tierney, the former attorney general of Maine who runs a blog about state attorneys general...Tierney advises many of the Democrats coordinating their efforts against Trump. The group is braced to file more suits in coming months. “It’s actually an essential part of federalism in that attorneys general will hold the president’s feet to the fire,” Tierney said.

  • For-profit college industry slips through cracks of accountability

    January 10, 2017

    At this time last year, all signs were pointing to a for-profit college industry in crisis, if not the death throes...In this context, James Tierney, a former Maine attorney general and now a Harvard Law School professor, called cash awards for individual students “a bonus.” Tierney said predatory industries practice “conscious and rational avoidance of strong enforcement,” meaning they hop across state lines to avoid lawsuits.

  • To Combat Trump, Democrats Ready a G.O.P. Tactic: Lawsuits

    December 15, 2016

    ...As Democrats steel themselves for the day next month when the White House door will slam on their backs, some of the country’s more liberal state attorneys general have vowed to use their power to check and balance Mr. Trump’s Washington...For the moment, the precise shape of Trump-branded targets is hard to make out. At the annual meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., two weeks ago, bipartisan bewilderment about the president-elect’s true intentions abounded...“People are coming up to me and saying, ‘What’s going to happen?’” said James E. Tierney, a former attorney general of Maine, who ran a program studying attorneys general at Columbia Law School. Mr. Tierney, a Democrat, now lectures at Harvard Law School. “There’s a lot of eye-rolling down here, in both parties, like, ‘Oh my God.’”

  • Conservatives pour money into races for state attorneys general

    September 26, 2016

    Conservative organizations are pouring money into the coffers of the Republican Attorneys General Association, which is far outpacing its Democratic rival in fundraising to elect candidates who will stand up to what they see as an activist Democratic agenda. The Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) had raised $15.7 million by early May, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a campaign finance watchdog, well ahead of the $5.7 million collected by the Democratic Attorneys General Association...“The amount of money is staggering,” said James Tierney, a former Maine attorney general and an adjunct professor at Harvard Law School who blames the Citizens United ruling, which lifted limits on corporate political contributions. “But that’s because it’s legal, and it’s legal because the Supreme Court said it was legal.”

  • Jordan Grossman sitting on a desk

    Going National: Clinic places students in AGs’ offices across the country

    January 1, 2014

    Human trafficking. Cybercrime. Consumer protection. Public integrity. With broad constitutional and statutory jurisdiction, state attorneys general handle all these matters and more, often in high-impact litigation. Given this variety of opportunities it provides, Harvard Law School’s Attorney General Clinic, taught by former Maine AG James E. Tierney, has been one of the most popular in the clinical program since it was instituted in 2011. And now Tierney has expanded enrollment in the clinic by using winter term to send HLS students to work in AGs’ offices across the country.