Dana Nessel became the first Democratic attorney general in Michigan in 16 years and has reversed her GOP predecessor, Bill Schuette, on a number of multi-state actions.
In her first year in office, Nessel withdrew from 28 federal cases, including ones siding with conservatives on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), LGBTQ rights, abortion, campaign finance reform and voting rights for felons.
Nessel told reporters at a roundtable this week that upon taking office in January, there were a lot of cases that Schuette had signed onto that she wasn’t aware of.
“I didn’t know about it and I think most of us didn’t know about it because he didn’t issue press releases … and they weren’t widely known to the public,” she said.
The state also formally joined 12 cases challenging the President Trump administration on clean power plant rules, the contraception mandate, the “public charge” rule for immigrants and more. Nessel has signed amicus briefs or letters of support for several more.
Nessel said her administration is “more vocal” about joining suits than Schuette’s was, which she said was “a little more under the radar.”
“We’ve taken a different approach. I think that every time that we join a lawsuit, we make a note to the public that we’ve done so,” Nessel said.
At the outset of her press conference, Nessel said that she wanted to take the attorney general office “back philosophically to where it was under Democrat Frank Kelley, the “Eternal General.”
“His priorities, I thought would be my priorities,” she said, rattling off a list that included the environment, civil rights and workers’ rights.
The Advance asked Nessel what the biggest difference was between her administration and that of Schuette.
(Nessel spokeswoman Kelly Rossman-McKinney interjected, “Way more fun.”)
The AG said she thinks she’s “more personally involved in our cases.”
“I can’t insert myself into 38,000 cases, but one of my policies has been: If this is anything that people might read about at some point, I want to know about it and I want to know all the details of it,” Nessel said.