The Republican Party has, in the Trump era, ever more frequently announced its rejection of the basic tenets of democracy, and the Michigan GOP is at the vanguard of this authoritarian lurch. Its latest move: threatening the state’s newly (and duly) elected Democratic attorney general with impeachment because she’s refused to go along with its ultra-conservative agenda.
Last year, Michigan voters chose Democrat Dana Nessel to serve as their top law enforcement official, investing her with all the powers of the office of attorney general. But Republicans couldn’t stomach that loss. In the lame-duck session of the legislature following the midterms, GOP lawmakers passed a series of power grabs deliberately designed to undermine Democrats, who had in fact swept every statewide office.
One of those was aimed squarely at Nessel, who broke a 16-year Republican grip on the attorney general’s post. That measure would have allowed GOP legislators to intervene—at taxpayer expense—in litigation where Nessel declined to defend the state. Such cases would include, for instance, an ongoing lawsuit against Michigan’s gerrymandered electoral maps, which a federal judge just ruled violate the Constitution.
The outgoing governor, Rick Snyder, wound up vetoing the bill, but his furious fellow Republicans have only grown angrier ever since. The GOP’s latest budget proposal would cut funds for Nessel’s office, a move Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey openly admitted is designed to apply “legislative pressure” to the attorney general.
But pressure to do what? Republicans can’t tolerate the fact that, since taking office, Nessel has settled a lawsuit over a GOP-backed law that had allowed adoption agencies to refuse to work with same-sex couples, barring further state funding for such agencies; established a new hate crimes unit; and announced she would not enforce the state’s existing abortion ban should Roe v. Wade be overturned.
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