Rutledge Statement on U.S. Supreme Court’s Decision in Religious Liberty CaseMon, Jun 26, 2017
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued a statement following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling today that sided with Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Missouri, and affirmed religious institutions should be eligible to receive funds for secular purposes.
“This important decision clarifies that no state can bar a religious organization from an available state-benefit program exclusively based on religion,” said Attorney General Rutledge.
Rutledge joined a coalition of 18 attorneys general in April 2016 in filing an amicus brief with the court in support of the church, which was seeking to participate in a State program that reimburses the cost of rubberizing playground surfaces.
In its 7-2 decision, Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. wrote the majority opinion stating that the State’s denial of the grant solely based on the preschool’s religious affiliation is unconstitutional.
Rutledge Statement on the U.S. Supreme Court’s Decision Regarding Arkansas Birth CertificatesMon, Jun 26, 2017
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today released a statement after a sharply divided U.S. Supreme Court summarily reversed the Arkansas Supreme Court in Pavan v. Smith.
“In a sharply divided decision, the Supreme Court of the United States overturned the Arkansas Supreme Court without briefing or argument on the merits,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I disagree with the majority’s flawed reasoning and strongly agree with the conclusions of Justices Gorsuch, Thomas and Alito in their well-reasoned dissent. Nonetheless, the Supreme Court has spoken, and I will continue to review today’s decision to determine the appropriate next steps upon remand to the Arkansas Supreme Court to ensure that the law is followed properly.”
Rutledge Selected as Vice Chairwoman of NAAG Southern RegionFri, Jun 23, 2017
Says, ‘it is important that we come together throughout the year to collaborate at the national level but also regionally’
BIG SKY, MT – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has been selected by her colleagues to serve as the vice chairwoman of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) Southern Region at this week’s summer meeting in Montana. Rutledge succeeds Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III as vice chairman as Slatery assumes the role of chairman.
“I am honored to be selected by my colleagues to serve as Vice Chairwoman of the NAAG Southern Region,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “As the chief legal officers of our states, it is important that we come together throughout the year to collaborate at the national level but also regionally, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the South to help facilitate that.”
NAAG has four regional conferences: Eastern Region, Midwestern Region, Southern Region and Western Region (Conference of Western Attorneys General). The members of the regions are the attorneys general from the states and territories that make up the region and customarily meet once a year to discuss important issues impacting the region.
The NAAG Southern Region consists of the attorneys general from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.
In addition to now serving as the Vice Chairwoman of the NAAG Southern Region, Rutledge continues to serve as the Co-Chair of the NAAG Committee on Agriculture and the NAAG Committee on Federalism/Preemption and is a member of the Internet Safety/Cyber Privacy and Security Committee and Veteran Affairs Committee.
Rutledge also serves as the Vice Chairwoman of the Republican Attorneys General Association.
Rutledge Joins Effort to Halt Sanctuary CitiesThu, Jun 22, 2017
Says, ‘President Trump’s executive order is lawful’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has joined a 10-state coalition in defense of President Donald J. Trump’s executive order regarding the prohibition of sanctuary cities for illegal immigrants.
According to Rutledge and her colleagues, these sanctuary jurisdictions violate federal law by protecting illegal immigrants from removal from the United States. The amicus brief supports the federal government’s motion to dismiss three lawsuits. The coalition argues the lawsuits are premature and undermine the President’s immigration enforcement authority granted to him by Congress.
“These sanctuary jurisdictions are a threat to public safety and obstruct cooperation between federal, state and local officials of immigration enforcement,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “President Trump’s executive order is lawful and intended to properly enforce the current immigration laws of the United States.”
The executive order directs the U.S. Attorney General and the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to ensure that sanctuary cities, to the extent permitted by law, may not receive grant dollars from specific federal programs. The order encourages states to comply with existing federal law that promotes voluntary cooperation between federal and state officials.
States that filed the brief include attorneys general from Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia.
ICYMI: ‘The general wins one’Thu, Jun 22, 2017
Excerpts from ‘The general wins one’
Why the Federal Communications Commission decided it had the right to cap telephone rates for this state's inmates is anybody's guess – if anybody was guessing that government always thinks it knows best. As if the apparatchiks making work for themselves in Washington, D.C., know all, including what goes into prisons and phone service.
But, mirabile dictu, a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington has decided that the FCC overstepped its authority when it cut – and capped – telephone rates for prisoners. Nine attorneys general from various parts of the Union, including Leslie Rutledge of Batesville and this state's AG office, sued to get to this point. Which sometimes has to be done when it concerns the federal government vs. the people…
A few points: First, and maybe foremost, the prison system isn't in the business of keeping prisoners from contacting family. "One of our goals," says Dina Tyler, deputy director of the Community Correction Department, "is to help relationships with families stay strong while someone is locked up." Otherwise, a prison isn't part rehabilitation. It's just a box. So one can assume that charging a (low) price for phone calls isn't the department's way of punishing inmates.
That said, Point No. 2: Prison isn't supposed to be pleasant, and folks inside aren't supposed to have all the freedoms of those on the outside.
Point No. 3: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit made this decision. That panel isn't exactly a den of right-wing hacks looking to impose conservative ideas on an unwilling nation…
President Trump appointed Ajit Pai as the chairman of the FCC back in February. Soon after, the lawyers for the FCC said it would no longer fight in the courts to fight the states on this matter. Or, as Mr. Pai put it this week: "The D.C. Circuit agreed with my position that the FCC exceeded its authority ... . I plan to work with my colleagues at the Commission, Congress and all stakeholders to address the problem of high inmate calling rates in a lawful manner."
What a pleasant change.
Rutledge: EPA Should Ensure Respect for State Authority and Expertise in WOTUS ReviewTue, Jun 20, 2017
Final definition should be consistent with intent of Clean Water Act
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge urged the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to preserve the role of the states in protecting the nation’s waters as part of the agency’s ongoing review of its Waters of the United States rule as ordered by President Donald J. Trump in February.
The 20-state bipartisan comment letter filed Monday outlined regulatory overreach in the existing rule and offered suggestions to better respect the authority of states moving forward.
“Properly defining Waters of the United States must be done in a way that respects the intent of Congress under the Clean Water Act,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “In its current, overly broad form, the Waters of the United States rule places the burden on our farmers and ranchers and ignores the traditional role of the states to protect its water.”
The letter suggests that the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers revise the definition of “Waters of the United States” in a manner that preserves the states’ role in protecting water resources, especially those within the border of the individual states. The attorneys general also suggest any final definition should adopt a framework consistent with U.S. Supreme Court precedent that includes that federal agencies can only assert authority over permanent, standing or continuously flowing bodies of water forming geographic features that are described in ordinary parlance as streams, rivers, oceans and lakes. The letter expresses that rather than claiming jurisdiction over vast amounts of water and land, the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers should consider the active role each state already plays in safeguarding its waterways.
Rutledge was part of the lawsuit that resulted in a nationwide injunction, blocking enforcement of the current rule, which proved crucial in providing time for the new administration to conduct this review.
The current rule, issued in June 2015, allowed the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to assert federal authority over an untold number of small bodies of water, including roadside ditches, short-lived streams and any other areas where water may flow once every 100 years.
Rutledge is joined by the attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.