State attorney general Xavier Becerra has reinstated the state’s physician-assisted suicide law after a temporary ban. The law was passed in 2016.
Los Angeles Times – “California appeals court reinstates law allowing terminally ill patients to end their lives”
Press Release – Coalition for Compassionate Care of California
Press Release – Compassion and Choices
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has been polarizing since his appointment last year, but now one of the men running to unseat him claimed in a lawsuit Tuesday that the state’s top lawyer is legally barred from even serving in his current post.
Could Gov. Jerry Brown have been so careless as to appoint someone unqualified?
According to the suit filed in Sacramento County Superior Court by rival candidate Eric Early, Becerra cannot serve because he was listed as “inactive” from 1991 to 2017 in the state bar. State law requires the attorney general to have been “admitted to practice” before the state Supreme Court for five years before taking office. Becerra was admitted to the bar in 1985.
“For almost 26 straight years, he was an inactive member of the state bar,” Early said in an interview. “He does not have what it takes to be the chief legal officer of the state of California.”
But Becerra’s campaign and Brown’s office noted this all has a familiar ring — a judge 11 years ago threw out a lawsuit claiming Brown was ineligible for the office of Attorney General to which he had just been elected because his bar membership was inactive from 1997 to April 2003.
The judge in that 2007 ruling argued that “admission to practice law is separate from the question of ‘active’ or ‘inactive’ membership in the State Bar,” which she called a “purely ministerial” distinction that affects only member dues.
“They made this same frivolous argument after Jerry Brown was elected Attorney General and the courts shut them down and ordered them to pay Brown’s court costs,” Becerra campaign manager Dana Williamson said. “I don’t anticipate a different outcome in this case.”
The state bar says that “only active licensees may practice law in California,” but adds that “inactive licensees have chosen this status voluntarily and may transfer to active at any time upon request.”
Early, however, said the issue has yet to be decided by the state’s high court and that the trial court judge in 2007 also was concerned about reversing the will of voters who already had elected Brown, whereas Becerra has yet to be elected to his office. His lawsuit is being handled by former Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley and asks the court to declare Becerra ineligible and order his name stricken from the November ballot.
Brown appointed Becerra, a fellow Democrat and former Congressman, as Attorney General following Kamala Harris’ election to the U.S. Senate. Becerra is running to keep the job in the June 5 primary election against fellow Democrat Dave Jones and Republicans Early and Steven Bailey, a former Superior Court judge. The two candidates who receive the most votes in June, regardless of party, will face off in the November election.
Becerra had $3.2 million to Jones’ $1.56 million in their campaign accounts going into this election year, with Early and Bailey far behind.
Becerra has aggressively sued President Donald Trump’s administration over immigration and environmental policies, but his critics argue he’s ignored other important matters. Jones, the state Insurance Commissioner, argues Becerra hasn’t done enough to remove illegally owned guns, prevent opioid over-prescriptions or clear a backlog of testing rape evidence.
Early, an attorney specializing in business, entertainment and real estate law, and Bailey, a retired El Dorado County Superior Court judge, oppose sanctuary cities and early release of prisoners and want the death penalty enforced.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.