Rutledge Joins Lawsuit Challenging the EPA’s WOTUS RuleMon, Jun 29, 2015
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today joined with 12 other States in filing a complaint against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) challenging a new rule defining “Waters of the United States,” or WOTUS, under the Clean Water Act. The case was filed in the United States District Court for the District of North Dakota.
“From the beginning, I have explained that this rule from the EPA and the Corps goes beyond the intent of Congress under the Clean Water Act and will negatively impact Arkansas’s agriculture community – a community that accounts for one in every six jobs across the State,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I have also indicated that I was prepared to take any and all legal action to prevent implementation of this unlawful regulation, which is why I am proud to join 12 other states in filing this lawsuit today. I am confident that the courts will once again affirm that local oversight and local control is the best way to protect our waters.”
In the complaint, the States contend the new definition of WOTUS violates provisions of the Clean Water Act as set forth by Congress, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Administrative Procedures Act, and the U.S. Constitution.
The expansive new rule brings numerous isolated bodies of water under the jurisdiction of the EPA and the Corps, which will result in landowners having to seek additional federal permits or face substantial fines and federal criminal enforcement actions if they do not comply.
The States are seeking to have the rule vacated and the EPA and the Corps enjoined from enforcing the new definition of WOTUS.
The States assert that the EPA’s new rule wrongly broadens federal authority by placing a majority of water and land resources management in the hands of the federal government. Congress and the courts have repeatedly affirmed the States have primary responsibility for the protection of intrastate waters and land management. The States argue that the burdens created by new requirements from the EPA on waters and lands are harmful to the States and will negatively affect farmers, developers and landowners, and thus the overall economy.
In addition to Arkansas, Rutledge is joined in filing today’s lawsuit by attorneys general from Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming, as well as the New Mexico Environmental Department and the New Mexico Office of State Engineer.
A copy of the complaint is available by clicking here.
Rutledge Comments on U.S. Supreme Court Obergefell v. Hodges DecisionFri, Jun 26, 2015
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today released a statement in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. The Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have a right to marry in all 50 states.
“Although this decision does not reflect the will of Arkansas voters, we are a nation of laws, and the judicial system has an important role to play. I am disappointed that the justices have chosen to ignore the role of the States to define marriage. The justices have issued a decision, and that decision must be followed.
“We are continuing to review this landmark decision to make sure the full implications are understood and that implementation is consistent with the rule of law. I urge those seeking to marry to be respectful as the State seeks to follow this ruling. Moving forward, it is critically important that the rights of religious freedom be protected, and I am committed to doing so.”
Rutledge Issues Guidance Following the Supreme Court’s Decision in Obergefell v. HodgesFri, Jun 26, 2015
LITTLE ROCK - Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today released the following memo to State and local officials to offer guidance in regards to the same-sex marriage ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court.
To: State and local officials of the State of Arkansas
From: Attorney General Leslie Rutledge
Date: June 26, 2015
Re: Obergefell, James, et al. v. Hodges, Richard, et al.
The purpose of this memorandum is to advise officials of the State of Arkansas and government officials of Arkansas counties, Arkansas municipalities, and others regarding the same-sex marriage ruling today by the United States Supreme Court in Obergefell, James, et al. v. Hodges, Richard, et al. (U.S. Supreme Court No. 14-556, June 26, 2015).
At the outset, it should be noted that the U.S. Supreme Court directive applies only to government agencies and officials, and civil marriage recognized by the government and does not compel religious institutions or clergy to recognize same-sex marriage. The opinion specifically notes that “[t]he First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered. ” Id., slip opinion at *27.
The fundamental governing principle to ensure compliance by government officials and government entities with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling is: same-sex couples should be treated exactly the same as opposite-sex couples in matters regarding civil marriage and the attendant rights, benefits, and obligations of civil marriage. State and local officials must immediately recognize the validity of same-sex marriage licenses issued by Arkansas and same-sex marriage licenses issued by other states, just as state and local officials recognize the validity of opposite-sex marriage licenses issued by Arkansas and other states. Arkansas officials should recognize the validity of same-sex marriage licenses issued in other states both before and after the Supreme Court ruling.
Arkansas county clerks should issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples upon request, requiring exactly the same procedures, fees, and other requirements as required for opposite-sex couples. Government agencies which provide privileges and benefits to married couples or spouses of married individuals should provide the same privileges and benefits to married same-sex couples and same-sex spouses of married individuals. For example, the state tax authorities should allow same-sex married couples to submit joint tax returns if those couples choose to do so, and should treat them exactly the same as opposite-sex couples who submit joint tax returns. Government employers that allow spouses of married employees to enroll in employee benefits programs such as health insurance should allow same-sex spouses of employees to enroll in employee benefits programs, exactly as they allow opposite-sex spouses of employees to enroll in employee benefits programs.
Again, the Supreme Court decision applies only to government entities, and civil marriage recognized by States and government and does not compel religious institutions, clergy, or private individuals to recognize same-sex marriage.
Rutledge Comments on U.S. Supreme Court King v. Burwell DecisionThu, Jun 25, 2015
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today released a statement in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in King v. Burwell. The Supreme Court upheld a provision of the Affordable Care Act, affirming that 6.4 million people can continue to receive subsidies that allow them to purchase health care plans.
“Today’s ruling is disappointing because the Supreme Court failed to read the plain text of the law and instead ruled to allow the Obama Administration to further implement a preferred policy and rewrite the law instead of what the law actually states – a practice that has become all too common from this Administration. The Court’s decision threatens the foundation upon which this country was built – that only Congress has the power to write and enact laws. As Attorney General, I will continue to fight to defend the rule of law and to protect Arkansans.”
Attorneys General Rutledge and Miller to Co-Chair Newly Formed NAAG Agriculture CommitteeWed, Jun 24, 2015
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller today announced that they will co-chair the newly formed National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) Agriculture Committee. Following last week’s NAAG Summer Meeting in San Diego, newly elected NAAG President South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley named Rutledge and Miller as co-chairs of the committee.
“Agriculture is vitally important to my State, adding more than $20 billion to our economy and making it the largest industry in Arkansas,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “It is critically important for attorneys general who share a common goal of advocating for and protecting the agriculture industry and its participants to have a venue to collaborate and share new ideas. I am honored to join my colleague and friend, Attorney General Miller, in this effort to co-chair the new Agriculture Committee, and I appreciate the confidence of President Jackley in both of us to lead this committee.”
“Agriculture is constantly evolving. As State attorneys general we need to ensure that we work together on legal issues that impact farmers and, more broadly, the industry,” Attorney General Miller said. “I look forward to collaborating with Attorney General Rutledge and other colleagues who share an interest in agriculture.”
“The State attorneys general have always taken a proactive approach to recognizing issues that directly impact our States. The addition of the Agriculture Committee will allow us to address the 21st century legal challenges facing agriculture and our States common interests. Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller have been tasked with the important responsibility of serving as co-chairs for this newly formed committee as strong leaders that are widely respected by their colleagues,” stated NAAG President Attorney General Jackley.
The full membership of the Agriculture Committee will be finalized in the coming weeks.
In addition to serving as the co-chair of the Agriculture Committee, Rutledge has also received the following committee assignments: Energy and Environment Committee, Federalism/Preemption Committee, Internet Safety/Cyber Privacy and Security Committee, and Veteran Affairs Committee.
“Along with co-chairing the Agriculture Committee, my other committee assignments will allow me the opportunity to represent the best interests of all Arkansans with my fellow attorneys general,” Rutledge continued. “I strongly believe in growing our energy production with an all-of-the-above approach and protecting our environment, but both must be done methodically and not through heavy handed regulations and orders that go beyond the scope of the federal government. At the same time, we must find new ways to protect our children from a growing cyber threat and safeguard consumers from what seems like a different security breach of personal data every day. Arkansans already know my commitment to our active duty service members and veterans, and I am excited to share what we are doing in Arkansas with my colleagues.”
NAAG was founded in 1907 to help attorneys general fulfill the responsibilities of their office and to assist in the delivery of high quality legal services to the states and territorial jurisdictions. The Association’s members are the 56 state and territorial attorneys general.
Rutledge Receives Patriot Award from Arkansas Employer Support of the Guard and ReserveTue, Jun 23, 2015
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today was presented with the Patriot Award by the Arkansas Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a U.S. Department of Defense agency. The award is given in recognition of Rutledge’s extraordinary support of employees serving in the National Guard and Reserve.
“I am honored and humbled to receive the Patriot Award from the Arkansas Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Our military servicemen and servicewomen bring a great skill set and proven leadership to any workplace. I am grateful for the members of our armed forces who have chosen to spend their days serving the people of Arkansas in uniform and at the Attorney General’s Office.”
“The Patriot Award was created by the Arkansas Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve to publicly recognize individuals who provide outstanding patriotic support and cooperation to their employees, who like the citizen warriors before them, have answered their nation’s call to serve,” said Rich Green, Arkansas ESGR. “Attorney General Rutledge was nominated for being highly supportive of the National Guard and Reserve by her Reserve Component employee, Colonel Marcus Hatley. Colonel Hatley has served in many demanding positions in the Reserve Forces. Supportive supervisors are critical to maintaining the strength and readiness of the nation’s Guard and Reserve units.”
In April, Rutledge launched the first ever Military and Veterans Affairs Initiative at the Attorney General’s Office. This initiative seeks to assist active duty military, reservists, veterans and their families with consumer related issues, veterans courts, the Hiring Heroes program and many other collaborative efforts.
Also in April, Rutledge signed the Department of Defense Statement of Support certifying her commitment to the National Guard and Reserve and all those who serve in our Reserve Forces. The statement encourages the employment of Guardsman and Reservists across the State and in the Attorney General’s Office.
The ESGR was started in 1972 to develop and maintain employer support for Guard and Reserve service. Paramount to ESGR's mission is encouraging employment of guardsmen and reservists who bring integrity, global perspective and proven leadership to the civilian workforce. For more information about ESGR Employer Outreach, visit ESGR.mil.