Sen. Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville. Photo by The Tennessee Lookout.

Tennessee’s next attorney general faces choice between tradition and partisanship, says Sen. Jeff Yarbro

NASHVILLE — With news of Attorney General Herbert Slatery’s imminent departure as the state’s top lawyer, Senate minority leader Jeff Yarbro says the next person to fill the role should ditch the partisanship that’s clouded the office.

Here’s the full statement from Sen. Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville:

During General Slatery’s tenure, the role became more overtly political and more overtly partisan. He wasn’t just a Republican who was appointed Attorney General, but rather a Republican Attorney General. In some ways, it’s hard to compare his performance to past attorneys general, because he clearly conceived of the job so differently than his predecessors.

The Office pulled back on its historic role of counseling the legislature about the risks of enacting unconstitutional laws and pushed forward into joining ideological lawsuits across the country.

The next Attorney General will face a big choice whether to go further down the partisan path or veer toward the more institutional role as the chief lawyer whose client is every Tennessee citizen.

Political commentators have critiqued Slatery’s tenure for engaging unnecessarily in contentious lawsuits driven by ideology, not policy. So much so, one writer even suggested, tongue in cheek, that Tennessee change its nickname to “The Sue Me ” state.

The next AG

The Attorney General of Tennessee, who serves as the chief law enforcement offer and top attorney for the state, is an appointed to serve an eight-year term by members of the Tennessee Supreme Court.

The attorney general is responsible for overseeing the state’s legal department, which, by law, is responsible for defending the state in civil lawsuits, prosecuting some criminal matters and advising state officials on legal issues.

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