A coalition of state attorneys general on Jan. 27 sent a letter to President Joe Biden reminding him that any potentially unconstitutional executive actions or federal overreach will not go unchallenged.
The letter, signed by six attorneys general, puts the Biden administration on notice that any actions that might exceed their statutory authority, are inconsistent with constitutional tenets, or place civil liberties at risk could trigger legal action by the states.
"Yet if you sign unconstitutional laws passed by Congress, it will be our responsibility and duty to challenge those laws in court. If cabinet officials, executive officers, and agencies go beyond the bounds of their statutory authority, fail to follow legally required procedures, or fall short of the bedrock Administrative Procedure Act obligation of reasoned decision making, it will likewise be our responsibility to take action."
The Administrative Procedure Act is a federal law that governs the process for agency rulemaking and has been frequently invoked to challenge executive branch rules and regulations.
Morrisey is joined by attorneys general from Arkansas, Indiana, Mississippi, Montana, and Texas.
"The President cannot cut constitutional corners or shirk statutory strictures without inevitably doing more harm to our country than good," the attorneys general wrote. "The foundations of our republic and American life are embedded within our Constitution's carefully crafted design.
"Accordingly, today by this letter we respectfully urge you when pursuing your policy priorities to honor the core constitutional tenets which should be appreciated and respected by every person entrusted with the honor and burdens of the presidency."
The letter notes the freedom of religion and religious expression, and the right to bear arms as two areas of concern.
The attorneys general stated that while there is always pressure for U.S. presidents and Congress to exceed their power "lest they be judged to be ignoring important issues or failing to address critical problems," it's a president's duty to uphold the U.S. Constitution's separation of powers as well as respect the sovereignty of the states.
They added that limits on federal power aren't a flaw of the Constitution and that when certain issues that are excluded from the federal sphere need to be addressed, the "states are ready and able to do the job."
Legal challenges to presidential orders aren't uncommon. During former President Donald Trump's four years in office, Democrat attorneys general frequently sued his administration on a range of executive actions and regulations in areas including health, climate, and immigration.