State Attorneys General

Mmm... gridlock.

If you like gridlock (and as lawyers, you should love gridlock) last night was a big night for you. Thanks to a divided Congress and a weakened President, we shouldn’t be seeing any national legislation for some time. And even as Republicans enjoyed gains in state legislatures around the country, in many cases the State Attorney General office landed in the hands of Democrats. So even if something does managed to get passed, expected it to be gummed up in the courts for a good long while.

Looking at the contested races for Attorney General around the country, we’re seeing that the Tea Party message will still hasn’t been developed into a coherent strategy as to how government lawyers should approach their jobs.

One of the biggest State AG races was in New York, where Democrat Eric Schneiderman scored a victory over well funded city Republican, Dan Donovan. The weakness of Tea Party darling Carl Paladino at the top of the New York Republican ticket didn’t help Donovan’s chances.

In California, a very close A.G. race is showing a slight lead for Democrat Kamala Harris, over Republican Steve Cooley. They’re still counting absentee ballots out there, it’s that close.

But whatever, it’s easy to discount Democrat resilience in New York and California. But outside NYC and L.A., where the ostensibly real Americans live, the top lawyer races were split and didn’t support the “tsunami theory” of Republican domination being pushed by the mainstream media folks…

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Michigan AAG Andrew Shirvell

Today brings some updates in the ongoing saga of Andrew Shirvell, the Michigan assistant attorney general who writes Chris Armstrong Watch, a blog devoted to attacking the openly gay student body president of the University of Michigan. We’ve covered the story extensively (see here and here).

First, Shirvell’s blog is now “open to invited readers only” — i.e., it’s password-protected.

Second, Chris Armstrong is seeking a restraining order against Shirvell (who has shown up at events attended by Armstrong and also at Armstrong’s home). Judge Nancy Francis declined to issue an immediate restraining order but scheduled a hearing for next week. (Shirvell has already been banned from the Michigan campus, despite his status as a UM alumnus.)

Third, and most notably, Shirvell has taken a personal leave from the Michigan AG’s office. This announcement was made today by a spokesperson for Attorney General Mike Cox — who also mentioned that Shirvell will be the subject of a disciplinary hearing when he returns to work.

The news that Shirvell is out of the Michigan AG’s office, at least temporarily, will be welcome to many. But some observers, including our own Elie Mystal, have called for more: namely, Shirvell’s firing.

Let’s pause and consider: Would it be that easy to fire Andrew Shirvell? As a former government lawyer who once blogged about judges while appearing before them as a prosecutor, I have some thoughts on this….

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And: Should AG Mike Cox Fire Shirvell?

Andrew Shirvell

Andrew Shirvell, the Michigan assistant attorney general who has decided to launch a smear campaign against a Michigan undergraduate student council president, appeared on Anderson Cooper 360 last night. Shirvell made headlines two weeks ago, when his hate blog against University of Michigan student council president Chris Armstrong attracted media attention. Shirvell claims Chris Armstrong advances a “radical homosexual agenda.” Shirvell’s blog depicts Armstrong with photoshopped swastikas on his face and features all sorts of hateful rhetoric directed against Armstrong. We previously wrote about Shirvell here.

I don’t know if Shirvell thought he was going to get fellated by Larry King when he walked into the CNN studio. But Anderson Cooper was not about to let this unrepentant homophobe have an unchallenged opportunity to spout his hate to a national audience. The best Cooper line: “You seem to be obsessed with this young, gay man.”

Why don’t you check out the video clip, and then we’ll discuss…

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Andrew Shirvell: Is there anything you'd like to tell us?

Andrew Shirvell is an assistant attorney general in Michigan, and he’s got a bone to pick with Chris Armstrong, president of the University of Michigan student body.

In other reports, Armstrong is referred to as “the gay president” of the Michigan student body. But on Andrew Shirvell’s blog devoted to Chris Armstrong, Shirvell refers to Armstrong as: “a viciously militant homosexual activist who is (currently) the president of the Michigan Student Assembly (MSA).”

You know what they say about vicious militants, Mr. Shirvell: it takes one to know one. Shirvell — who, once again, is an Assistant Attorney General — is using his blog to conduct the worst kind of “smear the queer” campaign, and it’s all directed against a college student. You’d call Shirvell a homophobe, but that would be insulting to the many bigots out there who merely try to suppress a civil liberty or two.

Andy Shirvell is well beyond your average gay-basher…

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Craigslist services section earlier this week

The “censored” box that Craigslist put over the “Adult Services” section of its website may have been a last hurrah before capitulating to demands from attorneys general that the section be eliminated. Today, the censored box disappeared from the site.

The “adult services” section is gone, but two new services sections appeared: “cycle” and “marine.” Their offerings are not as exciting as the now-disappeared lusty section. There are multiple ads for jet ski repair in the new marine section in New York, and a “massage special” in the cycle section. It looks like would-be prostitutes are going to have to work on their bike and boat repair skills.

The law — i.e., Section 230 — was on Craigslist’s side. Why did it capitulate?

Read on at Forbes.com.

The last two New York Attorneys General have become wildly famous. Everybody knows who Eliot Spitzer is, mostly for the wrong reasons. Before he became Governor Client Number 9, Eliot Spitzer attained the title “Sheriff of Wall Street.” Meanwhile, the current NYAG Andrew Cuomo was already famous because of his father. As AG, Cuomo has continued Spitzer’s legacy of asserting jurisdiction over anything that will help him run for Governor. The plan seems to be working, and Cuomo is the prohibitive favorite to become the next New York Governor.

Which means New Yorkers need to elect another attorney general. Unfortunately, nobody is paying attention to the Democratic primary (next Tuesday) where the winner will most likely be a shoe in for the job of top lawyer in New York. A recent Quinnipiac poll showed that 77% of registered Democrats have no idea who they’re going to vote for. More embarrassingly, 8% of respondents to an open-ended question about who they will vote for said they were going to vote for a person who is not actually running for NYAG. That’s double the 4% support “frontrunner” Kathleen Rice received.

Arguably, it’s the most important AG job in the country, the election is a week away, and 85% of the potential voters haven’t made up their mind or don’t know who is in the race. Think about that the next time somebody complains about “regulation” of Wall Street. I can’t blame Jamie Dimon if he’s not thrilled about listening to an AG who was elected by five guys who thought it would be a funny to show up and Ice election day workers.

So, as a public service to all the Above the Law readers who might actually have to deal with the NYAG, I’m liveblogging tonight’s Attorney General debate. Please check it out, I’m trying to be helpful…

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