Anyone who has followed Attorney General Jeff Landry's political career shouldn't be surprised that he's using the Louisiana Constitution as a shield and sword to cut a new path for his office. As a congressman, he once joined 70 other lawmakers in using a provision from the U.S. Constitution to block the House and Senate from recessing. And as a candidate for attorney general in the 2015 election cycle, he repeatedly described himself as a “ferocious advocate” for the state's and nation's guiding charters.
The talk in legal circles last week was that Landry, by cracking open the Louisiana Constitution, was more laying down markers than agreeing to a compromise when his office took over anti-abortion litigation. The Department of Health and Hospitals had awarded the cases, during the last administration, to outside counsel through private contracts. But now Landry's office has ownership, and they could be the tip of an interesting political spear.
In a separate press release, Gov. John Bel Edwards said his administration agreed to let the AG's office assume active management of the cases. Those involved say there was no push or shove, describing it as “very friendly” and “not contentious.”
While some state departments and agencies have the authority through statute to take on and sometimes contract out certain legal actions without the AG's involvement, Landry is relying upon his interpretation of the Louisiana Constitution and he has so far cited Article 4, Section 8 twice in press releases. The section gives his office the authority to institute, prosecute or intervene in any civil or criminal action or proceeding.
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