January 8, 2020
A number of progressives are complaining about Attorney General Josh Stein defending the voter ID law in court. They should get over it. He’s just doing the job he was elected to do.
No attorney general agrees with every law he or she has to defend, but the job requires that they represent the state in lawsuits brought against it. They don’t make laws or interpret their value, but if a case is brought to court that challenges a law and the court accepts the case, it’s their job to make the argument for its legality. They don’t have much leeway in that decision.
As for Stein, he’s always been a strong opponent of voter ID laws. He voted against the original voter ID law when he was a state senator. He’s long advocated for voting rights and comes about his commitment honestly. He was born into the fight for equality. His father, Adam Stein, is one of the state’s most prominent civil rights attorneys.
Opponents of voter ID laws should be happy that Stein is handling the case instead of some right-wing lawyer hired by the legislature. He’s got a staff of competent lawyers who are also public servants. They will argue the case on its merits and not with some ideological agenda. That’s what they’re hired to do and we should be glad they are there.
In addition, the legislature is not wasting a bunch of taxpayer dollars on high-priced lawyers who are outside the system. They did that with their losing gerrymandering cases and we, as a state, are worse for the wear. President Pro-tem Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore should have had more faith in the public servants in the AG’s office.
Finally, Stein shouldn’t pick and choose his cases based on his ideological preference. That would set a bad precedent. While North Carolina has a Democratic attorney general today, a state as evenly divided as ours may well have a Republican one in the future. No progressive wants that attorney general making decisions about which laws to defend and which to ignore.
Progressives should get off of Stein’s back and be thankful that we’ve got an attorney general with his values. He’s got a solid record as a progressive Democrat but he’s not blinded by ideology. He’s worked across the aisle on problems like the opioid crisis. He’s stood with other attorney generals opposing Trump’s most extreme measures. In just one term, he’s been recognized nationally for his work and he’s received kudos from across the political spectrum. He should be admired for his stands, not criticized for doing his job.