State attorney general

Last updated

Party affiliation of current United States attorneys general:
Democratic Attorney General
Republican Attorney General
Independent Attorney General
New Progressive Attorney General Party affiliation of current United States attorneys general.svg
Party affiliation of current United States attorneys general:
  Democratic Attorney General
  Republican Attorney General
  Independent Attorney General
  New Progressive Attorney General

The state attorney general in each of the 50 U.S. states, of the federal district, or of any of the territories is the chief legal advisor to the state government and the state's chief law enforcement officer. In some states, the attorney general serves as the head of a state department of justice, with responsibilities similar to those of the United States Department of Justice.

U.S. state constituent political entity of the United States

In the United States, a state is a constituent political entity, of which there are currently 50. Bound together in a political union, each state holds governmental jurisdiction over a separate and defined geographic territory and shares its sovereignty with the federal government. Due to this shared sovereignty, Americans are citizens both of the federal republic and of the state in which they reside. State citizenship and residency are flexible, and no government approval is required to move between states, except for persons restricted by certain types of court orders. Four states use the term commonwealth rather than state in their full official names.

Territories of the United States political division that is directly overseen by the United States Federal Government

Territories of the United States are sub-national administrative divisions overseen by the federal government. They differ from U.S. states and Native American tribes, which have limited sovereignty. The territories are classified by incorporation and whether they have an "organized" government through an organic act passed by Congress.

State governments of the United States state-level governments of the 50 states which comprise the United States of America

State governments of the United States are institutional units in the United States exercising some of the functions of government at a level below that of the federal government. Each state's government holds fiscal, legislative and executive authority over a defined geographic territory. The United States comprises 50 states: 13 that were already part of the United States at the time the present Constitution took effect in 1789, plus 37 that have been admitted since by Congress as authorized under Article IV, Section 3 of the Constitution.


The current party composition of the state attorneys general are:

The composition for the District of Columbia and the 5 populated territories are:


The most prevalent method of selecting a state attorney general is by popular election. 43 states have an elected attorney general. [1] Elected attorneys general serve a four-year term, except in Vermont, where the term is two years. [2]

Seven states do not elect an attorney general. In Alaska, Hawaii, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Wyoming, the attorney general is a gubernatorial appointee. [1] The attorney general in Tennessee is appointed by the Tennessee Supreme Court for an eight-year term. [1] [2] In Maine, the attorney general is elected by the state Legislature for a two-year term. [1] [2]

The District of Columbia and two U.S. territories, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, elect their attorneys general for a four-year term. 2014 marked the first year that the District of Columbia and Northern Mariana Islands held an election for the office. In American Samoa, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the attorney general is appointed by governor. [3] In Puerto Rico, the attorney general is officially called the secretary of justice, but is commonly known as the Puerto Rico attorney general. [4]

Defense of the state in federal lawsuits

State attorneys general enforce both state and federal laws. Because they are sworn to uphold the United States' constitution and laws as well as the state's, they often decline to defend the state in federal lawsuits. [5]

Current attorneys general

List of attorneys general by U.S. states and territories:

Rows of the Attorney General table below are color coded indicating the political party of the office holder.

OfficeholderStatePartyAssumed officeTerm expiresLaw school
Steve Marshall Alabama Republican February 10, 20172023 University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa
Kevin Clarkson Alaska Republican December 5, 2018Appointed Willamette University
Talauega Ale American Samoa Democratic January 28, 2014Appointed Drake University
Mark Brnovich Arizona Republican January 5, 20152023 University of San Diego
Leslie Rutledge Arkansas Republican January 13, 20152023 University of Arkansas, Little Rock
Xavier Becerra California Democratic January 24, 20172023 Stanford University
Phil Weiser Colorado Democratic January 8, 20192023 New York University
William Tong Connecticut Democratic January 9, 20192023 University of Chicago
Kathy Jennings Delaware Democratic January 1, 20192023 Villanova University
Karl Racine District of Columbia Democratic January 2, 20152023 University of Virginia
Ashley Moody Florida Republican January 9, 20192023 University of Florida
Stetson University (LLM)
Chris Carr Georgia Republican November 1, 20162023 University of Georgia
Leevin Camacho Guam Independent January 7, 20192023 Boston University
Clare Connors Hawaii Democratic January 3, 2019Appointed by Governor Harvard University
Lawrence Wasden Idaho Republican January 6, 20032023 University of Idaho, Moscow
Kwame Raoul Illinois Democratic January 14, 20192023 Illinois Institute of Technology
Curtis Hill Indiana Republican January 9, 20172021 Indiana University, Bloomington
Tom Miller Iowa Democratic January 6, 19952023 Harvard University
Derek Schmidt Kansas Republican January 10, 20112023 Georgetown University
Andy Beshear Kentucky Democratic January 4, 20162020 University of Virginia
Jeff Landry Louisiana Republican January 11, 20162023 Loyola University, New Orleans
Aaron Frey Maine Democratic January 2, 20192023 (Elected by the Legislature) Roger Williams University
Brian Frosh Maryland Democratic January 6, 20152023 Columbia University
Maura Healey Massachusetts Democratic January 21, 20152023 Northeastern University
Dana Nessel Michigan Democratic January 1, 20192023 Wayne State University
Keith Ellison Minnesota Democratic January 7, 20192023 University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Jim Hood Mississippi Democratic January 14, 20042020 University of Mississippi, Oxford
Eric Schmitt Missouri Republican January 3, 20192021 Saint Louis University
Tim Fox Montana Republican January 7, 20132021 University of Montana
Doug Peterson Nebraska Republican January 8, 20152023 Pepperdine University
Aaron Ford Nevada Democratic January 7, 20192023 Ohio State University, Columbus
Gordon MacDonald New Hampshire Republican April 13, 20172021 (Appointed) Cornell University
Gurbir Grewal New Jersey Democratic January 16, 2018Appointed College of William and Mary
Hector Balderas New Mexico Democratic January 1, 20152023 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque
Tish James New York Democratic January 1, 20192023 Howard University
Josh Stein North Carolina Democratic January 1, 20172021 Harvard University
Wayne Stenehjem North Dakota Republican December 15, 20002023 University of North Dakota
Edward Manibusan Northern Mariana Islands Democratic January 13, 20152023 Gonzaga University
Dave Yost Ohio Republican January 14, 20192023 Capital University
Mike Hunter Oklahoma Republican February 20, 20172023 University of Oklahoma
Ellen Rosenblum Oregon Democratic June 29, 20122021 University of Oregon
Josh Shapiro Pennsylvania Democratic January 17, 20172021 Georgetown University
Wanda Vázquez Garced Puerto Rico [6] New Progressive/
January 2, 20172021 (Appointed) Interamerican University, San Juan
Peter Neronha Rhode Island Democratic January 1, 20192023 Boston College
Alan Wilson South Carolina Republican January 12, 20112023 University of South Carolina, Columbia
Jason Ravnsborg South Dakota Republican January 5, 20192023 University of South Dakota, Vermillion
Herbert Slatery Tennessee Republican October 1, 20142022 (Appointed) University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Ken Paxton Texas Republican January 5, 20152023 University of Virginia
Carol Thomas-Jacobs U.S. Virgin Islands Independent January 10, 2019Appointed Norman Manley Law School
Sean Reyes Utah Republican December 30, 20132021 University of California, Berkeley
T. J. Donovan Vermont Democratic January 5, 20172021 Suffolk University
Mark Herring Virginia Democratic January 11, 20142022 University of Richmond
Bob Ferguson Washington Democratic January 16, 20132021 New York University
Patrick Morrisey West Virginia Republican January 14, 20132021 Rutgers University, Newark
Josh Kaul Wisconsin Democratic January 7, 20192023 Stanford University
Bridget Hill Wyoming Republican January 7, 2019Appointed University of Wyoming

See also

The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) is an organization of 56 state and territorial attorneys general in the United States. The association's mission is "to foster interstate cooperation on legal and law enforcement issues, to conduct policy research and analysis of issues, and facilitate communication between the states' chief legal officers and all levels of government."

Related Research Articles

United States federal judicial district

For purposes of the federal judicial system, Congress has divided the United States into judicial districts. There are 94 federal judicial districts, including at least one district in each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Three territories of the United States — the Virgin Islands, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands — have district courts that hear federal cases, including bankruptcy cases. The breakdown of what is in each judicial district is at 28 U.S.C. §§ 81131.

Federal government of the United States national government of the United States

The Federal Government of the United States is the national government of the United States, a federal republic in North America, composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and several island possessions. The federal government is composed of three distinct branches: legislative, executive, and judicial, whose powers are vested by the U.S. Constitution in the Congress, the President, and the federal courts, respectively. The powers and duties of these branches are further defined by acts of congress, including the creation of executive departments and courts inferior to the Supreme Court.

United States Attorney chief prosecutor representing the United States federal government

United States attorneys represent the United States federal government in United States district courts and United States courts of appeals.

In the terminology of the United States insular areas, a Commonwealth is a type of organized but unincorporated dependent territory. There are currently two United States insular areas with the status of commonwealth, the Northern Mariana Islands and Puerto Rico.

In the United States, each state has its own constitution.

Non-voting members of the United States House of Representatives are representatives of their territory in the House of Representatives, who do not have a right to vote on proposed legislation in the full House but nevertheless have floor privileges and are able to participate in certain other House functions. Non-voting members may vote in a House committee of which they are a member and introduce legislation. There are currently six non-voting members: a delegate representing the federal district of Washington D.C., a resident commissioner representing Puerto Rico, and one delegate for each of the other four permanently inhabited US Territories: American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the US Virgin Islands. As with voting members, non-voting delegates are elected every two years, and the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico is elected every four years.

The Jones–Shafroth Act —also known as the Jones Act of Puerto Rico, Jones Law of Puerto Rico, or as the Puerto Rican Federal Relations Act of 1917— was an Act of the United States Congress, signed by President Woodrow Wilson on March 2, 1917. The act superseded the Foraker Act and granted U.S. citizenship to anyone born in Puerto Rico on or after April 25, 1898. It also created the Senate of Puerto Rico, established a bill of rights, and authorized the election of a Resident Commissioner to a four-year term. The act also exempted Puerto Rican bonds from federal, state, and local taxes regardless of where the bond holder resides.

The United States territorial courts are tribunals established in territories of the United States by the United States Congress, pursuant to its power under Article Four of the United States Constitution, the Territorial Clause. Most United States territorial courts are defunct because the territories under their jurisdiction have become states or been retroceded.

Pedro Pierluisi Puerto Rican politician

Pedro Rafael Pierluisi Urrutia is an attorney who was the 19th Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico from 2009 to 2017. In this capacity, Pierluisi served as a member of the United States House of Representatives and as the only delegate that represents all U.S. citizens residing on the island. His constituency encompassed about 3.3 million people and, unlike most others, belongs to an at-large congressional district that covers his entire domicile rather than a subdivision of it. Pierluisi's rights and privileges differed from other congressmen as well, as he is denied a vote on the final disposition of all legislations on the House floor because of his designation as resident commissioner. Still, save for that exception, he exercised his functions like that of any other congressman. He has Italian ancestry.

Under United States law, an unincorporated territory is an area controlled by the United States government that is not part of the United States. In unincorporated territories, the U.S. Constitution applies only partially. In the absence of an organic law, a territory is classified as unorganized. In unincorporated territories, "fundamental rights apply as a matter of law, but other constitutional rights are not available". Selected constitutional provisions apply, depending on congressional acts and judicial rulings according to U.S. constitutional practice, local tradition, and law.

Eduardo Bhatia American politician

Eduardo Bhatia Gautier is an attorney-at-law and the former 15th President of the Senate of Puerto Rico. Bhatia is also a former executive director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration and a Fulbright scholar.

District of Columbia and United States Territories Quarters

The District of Columbia and United States Territories Quarter Program was a one-year coin program of the United States Mint that saw quarters being minted in 2009 to honor the District of Columbia and the unincorporated United States insular areas of Puerto Rico, Guam, United States Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands. The islands commonly grouped together as the United States Minor Outlying Islands were not featured, as the law defined the word "territory" as being limited to the areas mentioned above. It followed the completion of the 50 State Quarters program. The coins used the same George Washington obverse as with the quarters of the previous ten years. The reverse of the quarters featured a design selected by the Mint depicting of the federal district and each territory. Unlike on the 50 State quarters, the motto "E Pluribus Unum" preceded and was the same size as the mint date on the reverse.

Gustavo Gelpí United States federal judge

Gustavo Antonio Gelpí Jr. is the Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico. At age 40, he was the youngest judge at the time of his appointment.

Voting rights of citizens in Guam differ from those of United States citizens in each of the fifty states. In the U.S. House of Representatives, Guam is entitled to a delegate, who is not allowed to vote on the floor of the House, but can vote on procedural matters and in House committees. Citizens of Guam may not vote in general elections for President.


  1. 1 2 3 4 Moretto, Mario (January 23, 2015). "LePage sheds light on plan to strip Legislature of power to elect attorney general, treasurer". Bangor Publishing Company. Bangor Daily News. Retrieved January 16, 2016.
  2. 1 2 3 "Elections for Attorney General to Take Place in 30 States". National Association of Attorneys General. National Association of Attorneys General . Retrieved January 16, 2016.
  3. "2014 State and Territorial Attorneys General Election Results". National Association of Attorneys General. National Association of Attorneys General. Retrieved January 16, 2016.
  4. "AG Spotlight: New Attorneys General". National Association of Attorneys General. National Association of Attorneys General. Retrieved January 16, 2016.
  5. Phillips, Amber (May 15, 2016). "Is it legal for North Carolina's attorney general to not defend the state's bathroom law?". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  6. The title of the head of Puerto Rico's Justice Department is the Secretary of Justice, not Attorney General.