CHICAGO – Republican Erika Harold frequently dodges questions by claiming her personal views don’t matter because if elected Attorney General, she would simply “enforce the law.”
However, attorneys general make decisions every day that go well beyond simple law enforcement. AGs have prosecutorial discretion, the responsibility to decide whether to get involved in a matter, and to what extent.
In addition, at a time when the federal government has failed to protect Americans – or outright attacked them – it is state attorneys general who have stepped up to defend our rights and the rule of law.
But when asked by Crain’s Chicago Business about whether she would sue the Trump administration if elected, Erika Harold said, “I believe the attorney general’s office should not be using their scarce resources to enter into lawsuits for purely political purposes.”
Personal views don’t matter? Purely political? It’s time to answer questions.
Here are five matters the next Attorney General will have to consider, where voters have a right to know:
What would Erika do?
1. A WOMAN’S RIGHT TO CHOOSE (HB40)
With Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, Roe v. Wade is in jeopardy. House Bill 40 will protect a woman’s access to care in Illinois, so long as it remains the law. Attorney General Lisa Madigan chose to defend HB40 against a legal challenge brought by State Rep. Peter Breen, an anti-choice crusader who recently held a fundraiser for Erika Harold. Harold is also against abortion, even in cases of rape and incest.
Would Erika defend HB40 and a woman’s right to choose in court?
2. AFFORDABLE CARE ACT (Texas v. U.S.)
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has survived U.S. Supreme Court review twice and congressional repeal attempts more than 70 times. Still, last week marked another hearing in Texas v. U.S., the 20-state GOP lawsuit attempting to repeal the ACA and take healthcare away from millions of Americans. Seventeen Democratic attorneys general, including Illinois’ Lisa Madigan, have sought to intervene and vigorously defend the ACA.
In 2014, while running for Congress to the political right of U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, Republican Erika Harold said she wanted to “repeal it all and start all over again,” regarding the ACA.
Does Erika support the GOP lawsuit to repeal the ACA, or would she defend the thousands of Illinoisans with preexisting conditions who rely on it?
3. EQUAL RIGHTS
In July 2018, Erika Harold stated that she “will take what is the Supreme Court’s latest precedent and make sure to uphold that” because it’s important “that you’re not bringing your own personal views into it.”
Yet in 2014, Harold supported prohibiting the U.S. Department of Justice from undermining the Defense of Marriage Act, which the Supreme Court had already found unconstitutional.
Harold also advocated for a constitutional amendment “defining marriage as being between a man and a woman,” months after marriage equality became law in Illinois in 2013.
Clearly, her personal views do matter – and in fact, inspire her to challenge the law.
Would Erika defend marriage equality if it is attacked, or would she welcome the chance to rollback progress if a new Supreme Court justice presented her with the opportunity to realize her previous advocacy?
4. DIY DEADLY WEAPONS
Under Trump, the federal government irresponsibly made a deal with the company that owned the designs for 3D-printed guns, and they were set to be released online until state attorneys general intervened to block their publication. If the administration had its way, anyone with a 3D printer – from domestic abusers to terrorists – would have been able to print a working firearm comparable to weapons used in recent mass shootings. Made of plastic, 3D-printed guns can be taken through metal detectors into schools and onto airplanes.
Harold called the settlement “deeply concerning” but stopped short of saying she’d take legal action.
Would Erika stand up to Trump and keep us safe from untraceable, undetectable weapons?
5. CLEAN AIR
Under Trump, the federal Environmental Protection Agency has rolled back rules that protect clean air and water and keep Illinois communities healthy. State attorneys general have sued the EPA 17 times since Trump took office. Attorney General Madigan announced she will take the EPA to court again if it persists in caving to polluters by dismantling Obama-era protections to limit emissions from power plants.
But last month, Erika told a group of coal industry leaders, “the last thing that Illinois needs is another attorney general who will do the bidding of the environmentalist activist groups.”
Can we expect Erika to do the bidding of big polluters instead? Will she fight for clean, healthy air in Illinois, or will she stand aside while Trump’s EPA lets polluters call the shots?