While much of the spotlight is on campaigns for the governor and US Senate in Wisconsin, there are big stakes in the attorney general’s race as well. The candidates diverge widely on several topics, including abortion law. Incumbent Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul has pledged not to enforce the state’s 1849 law banning abortion. He’s even sued to block the law. Republican challenger, Fond du Lac prosecutor Eric Toney has said he would enforce the ban and direct resources to local district attorneys’ offices to prosecute violations.
To find out what else you need to know about the attorney general’s race before casting a ballot, WUWM spoke with Marquette political science professor Paul Nolette.
Can you start out by explaining a bit about what the attorney general’s office does?
“There’s a lot of things that the [attorney general’s] office does, both in the civil and criminal legal context,” says Nolette. Wisconsin’s attorney general runs the Department of Justice, which does many things, from running investigations and crime labs to criminal and civil appellate litigation. They issue guidance on laws and join national lawsuits. “And also, they take a lot of actions to enforce state laws,” says Nolette. “So, against individuals, corporations here in the state [on topics] that might have to do with consumer protection issues, environmental issues, other types of legal questions like that.”
Additionally, attorney generals, especially in the last few years, have taken on a much more national role as well, he says. “So, one part of their job that tends to get a lot of attention is joining multistate lawsuits against the federal government, getting involved in federal court cases, as friends of the court. [“amicus briefs”], and really having an impact across a wide range of policy, both on the national and state level.” So