Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker was appointed after President Donald Trump fired Jeff Sessions last week. (Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP)

Absent Senate's Consent, Maryland Argues Trump Appointment of Acting AG Matthew Whitaker Unlawful

The significant authority of attorney general "calls for the highest levels of integrity and personal judgment, prerequisites safeguarded by the Constitution's command that principal officers be subject to the oversight and check provided by Senate confirmation."

Jessica Corbett

Maryland on Tuesday mounted the first court challenge to President Donald Trump's appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general after he fired Jeff Sessions last week.

The state, according to the New York Times, is requesting an injunction to prevent Whitaker from acting as attorney general, arguing that under federal law, the position should instead belong to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who has been overseeing Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe of alleged election meddling and obstruction of justice since Sessions recused himself.

Trump's appointment of Whitaker, an outspoken critic of the Mueller investigation, has been widely denounced as a ploy hamstring the probe.

The action comes as part of an ongoing case about the Affordable Care Act in which Sessions is named as a defendant. As Sessions is no longer the nation's top law enforcement official, Judge Ellen L. Hollander of the Federal District Court for the District of Maryland must decided who is the legal successor in the case.

While the Trump administration has claimed that Whitaker meets all requirements under the Federal Vacancies Act of 1998, Maryland, as the Times reports, argues that under the Attorney General Succession Act and the appointments clause of the Constitution—which states that "principal officers" of the federal government must be appointed "with the advice and consent of the Senate"Sessions' successor must be Rosenstein until the Senate confirms a permanent replacement.

The significant authority of attorney general, the filing reportedly declares, "calls for the highest levels of integrity and personal judgment, prerequisites safeguarded by the Constitution's command that principal officers be subject to the oversight and check provided by Senate confirmation." The president, it states, may not "bypass the constitutional and statutory requirements for appointing someone to that office."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Human Rights Defenders Warn Biden Border Policy 'Quickly Transforming Into Trump 2.0'

Like his predecessor, President Joe Biden now being accused of "using racist, xenophobic tropes about immigrants to weaponize Covid-19 against migrants and asylum-seekers."

Jon Queally ·


'Bombshell': Israeli Spyware Used to Hack iPhones of US State Department Officials

Calling the Israel-based spyware maker NSO Group an "in-plain-sight national security threat," one expert warned that "a multi-agency investigation is immediately needed."

Jessica Corbett ·


US Progressive Caucus Hails Honduran Election as Chance for 'New Chapter' in Relations

"We encourage the Biden administration to use this opportunity to make a clean break with previous presidential administrations, which worked to ensure that the 2009 coup d'état succeeded."

Brett Wilkins ·


'The Facts of This Case Are So Egregious': Parents of Michigan School Shooter Charged in Killings

"There were a lot of things that could have been so simple to prevent," the Oakland County prosecutor said of the mother and father now being sought by law enforcement.

Kenny Stancil ·


Health Minister Says 'Highly Transmissible' Omicron Hitting Young Children Hard in South Africa

In South Africa's worst-affected province, children under the age of five now make up the second-largest group being admitted to hospitals.

Julia Conley ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo