The California Legislature entered the New Year by hiring former Obama Attorney General Eric Holder to lead the state’s legal charge against the Trump administration. The justification is that he will “safeguard the values of the people of California.”
Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León said that bringing in Holder “shows that we’re very serious in protecting the values of the people of California against any attempt to undermine the policies that have made us the fifth-largest economy in the world.”
The better description of events, though, comes from Republican state Sen. Ted Gaines of El Dorado, who said “we’re putting a disgraced, unelected individual in charge of protecting California against possible federal overreach.”
“My Democrat colleagues are spending millions attempting to ‘safeguard the values’ of Californians based on tweets and phantom proposals. What about the 4.2 million California voters who supported Trump?”
While the election of Donald Trump sent thousands across the state into a frenzy of protests and cry-ins, the Democratic legislative leadership pulled a political fire alarm, almost immediately looking for an outside lawyer who would, according to one headline writer, “stand up to Trump.”
But that’s misleading. What Holder will do is largely try to help California’s government break federal law and violate federalism whenever and wherever possible.
Immigration will surely be one of the battlefields. Trump aims to enforce federal law while state and local governments refuse to cooperate with the federal government in enforcing America’s laws through the establishment of sanctuary cities.
America has always welcomed immigrants, but there’s a process — the rule of law — that must be respected. If Sacramento legislators and city councilmembers don’t like federal immigration law, they have every right to press for change. California has the largest representation in Congress among the 50 states. It is not without a voice in Washington.
Expect bitter clashes over global warming and environmental rules, as well. The Trump White House could be a hurdle to California’s destructive climate change efforts that are hurting the economy, taking away job opportunities and dropping an undue burden on the poor and middle class.
Another skirmish could erupt over Sacramento’s request that the Obama administration authorize a permanent ban on new offshore drilling on the fossil-fuel rich West Coast. If the president issues an executive order to that effect before he leaves office, Trump will surely countermand it with his own order, triggering Holder to tie it all up in the courts.
The entire Holder-to-California enterprise is a colossal waste. Sen. Patricia Bates, a Republican from Laguna Niguel, rightly points out that “California already has an attorney general’s office charged with defending the state and its laws.” The office, she notes, “has 4,300 employees and a budget of $830 million.” Funding Holder and his “legal team” is yet another abuse of taxpayers. Couldn’t Xavier Becerra, likely the next state attorney general, harass Trump enough on his own?
Holder’s hiring is also, as Assembly Republican Leader Chad Mayes of Yucca Valley says, “a distraction from the very real problems facing everyday Californians.” Those “very real” issues demanding attention include tax and regulation relief, a severe housing shortage, the march of productive Californians leaving the state, an ominous pension crisis and a coming energy crunch.
Rather than playing the role of adolescent rebel, the state’s Democratic leadership would be better off engaging in a bit of introspection. It would realize that the charitable hiring of Holder is just another California welfare program.