Md. to File Court Challenge Over Appointment of Acting AG - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Updated: Appointment of Acting Attorney General Challenge in Court

Posted: Updated:
Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker was previously a U.S. attorney and frequent Republican candidate for political office in Iowa. (Photo: AP) Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker was previously a U.S. attorney and frequent Republican candidate for political office in Iowa. (Photo: AP)

WASHINGTON (AP)- Maryland is challenging the appointment of Matthew Whitaker as the new U.S. acting attorney general, arguing that President Donald Trump sidestepped the Constitution and the Justice Department's own succession plan by elevating Whitaker to the top job.           

The Tuesday filing sets up a court challenge between a state and the federal government over the legitimacy of the country's chief law enforcement officer and foreshadows the likelihood of additional cases that present the same issues.

It comes as Democrats call on Whitaker to recuse himself from overseeing the special counsel's Russia investigation because of critical comments he has made on the probe and amid concerns over his views on the scope of judicial authority.           

In their filing, lawyers in the office of Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh argue that the job should have gone to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein instead of to Whitaker.           

They cite a statute governing the line of succession at the Justice Department that says that in the case of a vacancy in the attorney general position, the deputy attorney general may exercise "all the duties of that office." If neither is available for the job, according to that statute, then the associate attorney general is supposed to be elevated.           

Beyond that, the lawyers say, the Constitution requires the duties of the attorney general to be carried out only by someone with Senate confirmation.           

The state argues that Congress always intended for the attorney general to be confirmed by the Senate, given the national security and criminal justice powers of the position, including the authority to control an investigation into the president. Without a set chain of command, according to the filing, a president could pick and remove a series of attorneys general until he got his way.           

"Absent the Attorney General Succession Act, the President could fire the Attorney General (or demand his resignation), then appoint a hand-picked junior Senate-confirmed officer from an entirely different agency, or a carefully selected senior employee who he was confident would terminate or otherwise severely limit the investigation," the filing states.           

A Justice Department spokeswoman had no immediate comment, though the department was expected to release as soon as Tuesday an opinion from its Office of Legal Counsel defending the legitimacy of Whitaker's appointment.           

Whitaker was appointed last year as chief of staff to then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions. He became acting attorney general on Nov. 7 when Sessions was forced out.           

The Maryland filing was made Tuesday in a legal dispute with the Trump administration over the Affordable Care Act. That lawsuit names Sessions as an individual defendant.           

The state asks the judge to substitute Rosenstein as the defendant in place of Sessions, a move that would effectively declare him the proper attorney general.           

The state's lawyers say that in addition to their concerns over the line of succession, Whitaker has "expressed idiosyncratic views that are inconsistent with longstanding Department of Justice policy." They cite his criticism of the landmark Supreme Court opinion Marbury v. Madison, which ensured that courts had authority to strike down laws they considered unconstitutional.

  • PoliticsMore>>

  • Trump Says He'll Nominate Barr for Attorney General

    Trump Says He'll Nominate Barr for Attorney General

    Friday, December 7 2018 11:27 AM EST2018-12-07 16:27:11 GMT
    Friday, December 7 2018 11:27 AM EST2018-12-07 16:27:11 GMT
    William Barr (Photo: AP)William Barr (Photo: AP)
    William Barr (Photo: AP)William Barr (Photo: AP)
    President Donald Trump said Friday he will nominate William Barr, the late President George H.W. Bush's attorney general, to serve in the same role.More
    President Donald Trump said Friday he will nominate William Barr, the late President George H.W. Bush's attorney general, to serve in the same role.           More
  • Bush Final Farewell Takes on Personal, Distinctly Texas Feel

    Bush Final Farewell Takes on Personal, Distinctly Texas Feel

    Thursday, December 6 2018 1:41 PM EST2018-12-06 18:41:49 GMT
    Thursday, December 6 2018 1:41 PM EST2018-12-06 18:41:49 GMT
    Former President George W. Bush embraces former Secretary of State James Baker, right, after he gave a eulogy during the funeral for former President George H.W. Bush at St. Martin's Episcopal Church, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018, in Houston. (Photo: AP)Former President George W. Bush embraces former Secretary of State James Baker, right, after he gave a eulogy during the funeral for former President George H.W. Bush at St. Martin's Episcopal Church, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018, in Houston. (Photo: AP)
    Former President George W. Bush embraces former Secretary of State James Baker, right, after he gave a eulogy during the funeral for former President George H.W. Bush at St. Martin's Episcopal Church, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018, in Houston. (Photo: AP)Former President George W. Bush embraces former Secretary of State James Baker, right, after he gave a eulogy during the funeral for former President George H.W. Bush at St. Martin's Episcopal Church, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018, in Houston. (Photo: AP)
    George H.W. Bush's family and friends praised his faith, humility and patience Thursday, as days of national mourning in Washington took on a more personal feel during a final Texas farewell.More
    George H.W. Bush's family and friends praised his faith, humility and patience Thursday, as days of national mourning in Washington took on a more personal feel during a final Texas farewell.           More
  • Bush Saluted With Praise, Humor, Cannons at Capital Farewell

    Ceremonies for Bush Draw Together Presidents, World Envoys

    Wednesday, December 5 2018 8:22 AM EST2018-12-05 13:22:15 GMT
    Wednesday, December 5 2018 2:33 PM EST2018-12-05 19:33:38 GMT
     Visitors pay their respects at the flag-draped casket of former President George H.W. Bush, as he lies in state in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018. (Photo: AP) Visitors pay their respects at the flag-draped casket of former President George H.W. Bush, as he lies in state in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018. (Photo: AP)
    Visitors pay their respects at the flag-draped casket of former President George H.W. Bush, as he lies in state in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018. (Photo: AP)Visitors pay their respects at the flag-draped casket of former President George H.W. Bush, as he lies in state in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018. (Photo: AP)
    George H.W. Bush was celebrated with high praise and loving humor Wednesday as the nation bade farewell to the man who was America's 41st president and the last to fight for the U.S. in wartime.More
    George H.W. Bush was celebrated with high praise and loving humor Wednesday as the nation bade farewell to the man who was America's 41st president and the last to fight for the U.S. in wartime.       More
  • Delmarvawide NewsDelmarvawide NewsMore>>

  • Aquariums Oppose New Rules on Ocean Sound Blasting

    Aquariums Oppose New Rules on Ocean Sound Blasting

    Tuesday, December 11 2018 3:41 AM EST2018-12-11 08:41:58 GMT
    Tuesday, December 11 2018 3:41 AM EST2018-12-11 08:41:58 GMT
    Shot of seagull overlooking Lewes Beach (Source: Amber Muehlemann, WBOC)Shot of seagull overlooking Lewes Beach (Source: Amber Muehlemann, WBOC)
    Shot of seagull overlooking Lewes Beach (Source: Amber Muehlemann, WBOC)Shot of seagull overlooking Lewes Beach (Source: Amber Muehlemann, WBOC)
    A group of aquariums says it's opposed to seismic blasting along the East Coast as part of efforts to extract offshore oil and gas.More
    A group of aquariums says it's opposed to seismic blasting along the East Coast as part of efforts to extract offshore oil and gas.More
  • Firefly Music Festival Releases 2019 Lineup

    Firefly Music Festival Releases 2019 Lineup

    Monday, December 10 2018 9:47 PM EST2018-12-11 02:47:25 GMT
    Monday, December 10 2018 11:54 PM EST2018-12-11 04:54:40 GMT
    (Photo credit: Firefly Music Festival)(Photo credit: Firefly Music Festival)
    (Photo credit: Firefly Music Festival)(Photo credit: Firefly Music Festival)
    The Firefly Music Festival is one again returning to the Woodlands for it's eighth festival-- and Monday, event organizers released the lineup of performers.More
    The Firefly Music Festival is one again returning to the Woodlands for it's eighth festival-- and Monday, event organizers released the lineup of performers. More
  • New Exhibit in Delaware Focuses on WWI Illustrations

    New Exhibit in Delaware Focuses on WWI Illustrations

    Monday, December 10 2018 11:35 PM EST2018-12-11 04:35:39 GMT
    Monday, December 10 2018 11:35 PM EST2018-12-11 04:35:39 GMT
    DOVER, Del. -- A new exhibit in features illustrations painted by Delaware artists that were commissioned during World War I. The Delaware National Guard’s American Illustration Collection opened Monday at the Delaware Public Archives in Dover. The More
    DOVER, Del. -- A new exhibit in features illustrations painted by Delaware artists that were commissioned during World War I. The Delaware National Guard’s American Illustration Collection opened Monday at the Delaware Public Archives in Dover. The More
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • After Nativity Scene Removal, Rehoboth Beach Considers New Policy

    After Nativity Scene Removal, Rehoboth Beach Considers New Policy

    Monday, December 10 2018 5:26 PM EST2018-12-10 22:26:21 GMT
    Monday, December 10 2018 5:26 PM EST2018-12-10 22:26:21 GMT
    Photo courtesy: Patty DerrickPhoto courtesy: Patty Derrick
    Photo courtesy: Patty DerrickPhoto courtesy: Patty Derrick
    REHOBOTH BEACH, Del.- After the removal of a nativity scene on city property, the city of Rehoboth Beach is already looking towards next year. "The city will work with the local council of religious organizations to presenta plan for the possibilities ofMore
    REHOBOTH BEACH, Del.- After the removal of a nativity scene on city property, the city of Rehoboth Beach is already looking towards next year. "The city will work with the local council of religious organizations to present a plan for the possibilities ofMore
  • Firefly Music Festival Releases 2019 Lineup

    Firefly Music Festival Releases 2019 Lineup

    Monday, December 10 2018 9:47 PM EST2018-12-11 02:47:25 GMT
    Monday, December 10 2018 11:54 PM EST2018-12-11 04:54:40 GMT
    (Photo credit: Firefly Music Festival)(Photo credit: Firefly Music Festival)
    (Photo credit: Firefly Music Festival)(Photo credit: Firefly Music Festival)
    The Firefly Music Festival is one again returning to the Woodlands for it's eighth festival-- and Monday, event organizers released the lineup of performers.More
    The Firefly Music Festival is one again returning to the Woodlands for it's eighth festival-- and Monday, event organizers released the lineup of performers. More
  • "Baby, It's Cold Outside" Receives Backlash

    "Baby, It's Cold Outside" Receives Backlash

    Monday, December 10 2018 4:49 PM EST2018-12-10 21:49:21 GMT
    Monday, December 10 2018 4:49 PM EST2018-12-10 21:49:54 GMT
    A Christmas song that has warmed people's hearts for decades is now giving some people chills.More
    A Christmas song that has warmed people's hearts for decades is now giving some people chills.More
  • Maryland News</span><div style="float:right"><a href="/global/Category.asp?C=185256">More &gt;&gt;</a></div><span>Maryland NewsMore>>

  • First Snow of Season Reaches Delmarva

    First Snow of Season Reaches Delmarva

    Monday, December 10 2018 7:33 PM EST2018-12-11 00:33:29 GMT
    Monday, December 10 2018 7:33 PM EST2018-12-11 00:33:29 GMT
    Sunday's snowfall caught many people on Delmarva by surprise.More
    Sunday's snowfall caught many people on Delmarva by surprise.More
  • Armed Robbery Investigation in Salisbury

    Armed Robbery Investigation in Salisbury

    Monday, December 10 2018 5:12 PM EST2018-12-10 22:12:52 GMT
    Monday, December 10 2018 5:13 PM EST2018-12-10 22:13:08 GMT
    Salisbury Police is looking for two suspects involved in an armed robbery that occurred early the morning of Dec. 10 in Salisbury, Maryland.More
    Salisbury Police is looking for two suspects involved in an armed robbery that occurred early the morning of Dec. 10 in Salisbury, Maryland. More
  • "Baby, It's Cold Outside" Receives Backlash

    "Baby, It's Cold Outside" Receives Backlash

    Monday, December 10 2018 4:49 PM EST2018-12-10 21:49:21 GMT
    Monday, December 10 2018 4:49 PM EST2018-12-10 21:49:54 GMT
    A Christmas song that has warmed people's hearts for decades is now giving some people chills.More
    A Christmas song that has warmed people's hearts for decades is now giving some people chills.More
Powered by Frankly

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2018 WBOC. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices