The attorney general (AG) is the most senior legal officer in a jurisdiction. These positions are granted power under common law and they are tasked with representing the people and institutions of authority they have been appointed by.
There are both state attorney generals and a federal US attorney general, who are tasked with ensuring the law is upheld by all legal authorities, institutions, and public bodies. They are also tasked with bringing legal actions against individuals and entities that violate the law.
This essential position in the government legislature is essential in clarifying and upholding legal codes, ensuring state bodies remain legally compliant and that the public interest is served by the law. They are sometimes referred to as the “people’s lawyer” for the role they fulfill.
Read on to find out more about what attorney generals in the US do, what their statutory and constitutional mandates involve, and how they are chosen.
What Do Attorney Generals Do?
The main role of the attorney general in any jurisdiction is to ensure that the law is correctly interpreted and serves the public interest. In doing so they ensure that it is properly followed by all public and private institutions.
Attorney generals in the United States usually carry out the following duties:
- Providing legal opinions to state agencies.
- Proposing possible legislation.
- Enforcing federal and state environmental laws.
- Representing the federal and state governments in court.
- Acting in a public advocacy role for legal areas such as child support, consumer protection, or utility regulation.
- Reviewing criminal appeals and major statewide prosecutions.
- Filing civil suits on the behalf of a state or federal government.
- Determining the legal policy of the jurisdiction.
In addition to the roles listed above, AGs in the US also carry out duties and responsibilities stipulated under their specific state’s constitution and statutory codes. These ultimately vary from state to state.
How Are Attorney Generals Chosen?
There isn’t simply one way that an AG is selected in the United States. Attorney generals are chosen in different ways depending on if they are being appointed at a state or federal level.
How Ii the US attorney general chosen?
The US attorney general is a part of the Cabinet of the United States and is nominated by the President. After an AG has been nominated they must then be confirmed and officially appointed by the US Senate.
How are state Attorney Generals selected?
The way states choose their AGs differs from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In many legislatures, they are directly elected by the public. However, in other cases, the state governor directly chooses who the attorney general will be.