New York On Wednesday night, State Senator Liz Krueger hosted New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in an event titled “State of the Resistance: An Update From The Frontlines”. The event was an opportunity to address the role of state attorneys general in challenging Trump administration policies on a host of issues from immigration to the environment to civil and voting rights. Attorney General Schneiderman has been at the forefront of many of these efforts. Sen. Krueger engaged him in a conversation about his important work so far, and what more can be done to protect New Yorkers’ fundamental rights and democratic institutions.
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Over 300 people attended the event at the Porshansky Auditorium at CUNY Graduate Center in Manhattan, including long-time community activists and those involved in recent “resistance” efforts in response to the election of President Donald Trump.The evening began with opening remarks from City Council Member Dan Garodnick, after which Senator Krueger interviewed Attorney General Schneiderman about key issues he has taken on in his role as a leading figure pushing back against the Trump agenda. Topics of discussion included immigrant rights and the President’s travel ban, climate change, women’s reproductive rights, and the Affordable Care Act.

Mr. Schneiderman described working together with attorneys general around the country as part of what he called “the legal resistance,” a reaction from the legal community to what they perceive as a total disregard for the rule of law on the part of the Trump administration.

When asked about ongoing lawsuits challenging President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, Mr. Schneiderman said, “if the federal government is not going to defend a federal law, then we need to intervene so that there’s someone watching out for our environment.” Pointing out that the US Supreme Court has ruled that the EPA must regulate greenhouse gas emissions, Mr. Schneiderman said of Republican attacks on the Clean Power Plan, “if they repeal it, they have to replace it. We will insist that they follow the law.”

Mr. Schneiderman also addressed the issue of women’s reproductive rights, pointing out the importance of codifying Roe v Wade into state law through the Reproductive Health Act, sponsored by Senator Krueger. Of the Trump administration, Mr. Schneiderman said there’s a “deep strain of misogyny in a lot of their policies. Women’s rights are something that seems to rub these guys the wrong way, and women’s rights in particular.” But of Republican attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Mr. Schneiderman noted, “we’re going to challenge any health care bill that interferes with a woman’s constitutional rights.”

The interview was followed by a discussion of what New Yorkers can do to leverage their own power to protect democracy, including fostering partnerships between citizens, advocates, and elected officials. Mr. Schneiderman emphasized the importance of resistance at the state level. “States have to model smart, progressive governance,” he said. “The states are where the action is right now.” But, Mr. Schneiderman noted, “we’re not going to succeed in taking the country back just by being in opposition – we have to stand for something. We have to show how we are going to make people’s lives better.”

Ending the evening on a hopeful note, Mr. Schneiderman acknowledged the efforts of many of those in attendance. “The American people are rising up,” he said. “It makes a tremendous difference if you speak up.”