Attorney General Eric Schmitt officially announced his bid for U.S. Senator Roy Blunt’s seat on March 24, pledging to defend former President Donald Trump’s policies again the Biden administration.
“As attorney general, I’ve already sued the Biden administration and I’m going to keep suing Joe Biden to protect all Missourians when necessary,” Schmitt said. “I’ve been holding the Biden administration and the Democrats accountable on important issues like border security, the Second Amendment, and regulations that cripple our economy.”
Here’s a look at the federal challenges leveled by the Republican in his role as attorney general.
California assault rifle ban
Schmitt joined 21 attorneys general in support of a recent decision striking down California’s assault weapon ban. The coalition filed a brief June 16 urging the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold a lower court’s decision overturning the ban on what it defined as assault weapons, which had been in place for more than three decades. The ban was overturned by a lower court earlier this month and appealed by the state the week before.
Navigable Waters Protection Rule
Schmitt is opposing efforts to revise the federal Navigable Waters Protection Rule enacted under the Trump administration. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan and the Army Corps of Engineers announced their intention to revise the rule in early June, saying the move was prompted by claims that the current version was causing harm to local governments and organizations.
Schmitt sent a letter to Regan and Jaime Pinkham, acting assistant secretary of the Army for civil works, opposing the move on June 15. Schmitt argued the groups were exceeding their statutory authority through their definition of “waters of the United States” by attempting to regulate private property.
David Chipman’s appointment as head of ATF
Schmitt joined 19 Republican attorneys general in a letter to U.S. Senate leadership on May 25 opposing the appointment of David Chipman to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). The letter, led by Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen, pointed to Chipman’s “long history with organizations whose mission is to erase the Second Amendment.”
Department of Education
Schmitt joined a 20-state letter on May 20 urging the Biden administration to reconsider proposals mandating the use of critical race theory (CRT) and the 1619 Project in classrooms; a push to bar the mandate on the state level was also considered in the legislature this year.
“American history, civics, and historical literacy are a crucial facet of education in schools across the state and country,” Schmitt said. “Reframing that history through the flawed and harmful lens of critical race theory and the 1619 Project would be a disservice to Missouri students.”
Childrens’ social media site
Schmitt joined 43 other attorneys general in a May 10 letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg urging him to halt the development of a version of Instagram for children. The letter cited concerns over cyberbullying, exposure to online predators, and mental health.
“Social Cost of Carbon” analysis
Schmitt led 22 states on an April 27 letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) opposing its use of “Social Cost of Carbon” analysis to make certification decisions on interstate natural gas pipelines. The letter argued the method was flawed and not authorized under existing law.
“Our nation’s energy sector should not be held hostage by President Biden’s insistence on imposing a ‘social cost’ for certain greenhouse gases and imposing crushing federal regulations,” Schmitt said. “Under the ‘Social Cost of Carbon’ analysis, private companies who want to build interstate natural gas pipelines to provide cheap, affordable energy to Missourians and those across the country would be subject to greater regulations and red tape.”
Biden asked the Eastern District Court of Missouri to dismiss the suit on June 4, but the
Packing the U.S. Supreme Court
Schmitt joined a coalition of 20 attorneys general on an April 22 letter to Biden opposing potential administrative and congressional efforts to increase the number of justices on the U.S. Supreme Court.
“President Biden’s and congressional leaders’ attempts to pack the United States Supreme Court will undermine the independence and impartiality of the nation’s highest court and sour public confidence in our judicial system,” Schmitt said.
Washington, D.C. statehood
Schmitt joined 21 other Republican attorney generals on a letter to Biden on April 13 opposing a push to establish statehood for Washington, D.C. The coalition said doing so would “constitute an unprecedented aggrandizement of an elite ruling class with unparalleled power and federal access.”
Migrant Protection Protocols
Schmitt filed suit against Biden, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, and other members of the administration on April 13, calling on them to reinstate Trump’s Migrant Protection Protocols.
Under the policies, individuals arriving at the southern border seeking asylum were turned back to Mexico and given notices to appear in immigration court. The protocols were suspended in January.
“President Biden’s failure to control the massive influx of migrants — an influx invited by his lax policies — has opened the floodgates to human trafficking that will have lasting effects on Missouri and the United States and puts our nationally-recognized efforts to fight human trafficking in jeopardy,” Schmitt said.
State tax policy
Schmitt sued the U.S. Department of the Treasury and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on March 29, pointing to the interpretation of a provision in the American Rescue Plan Act Schmitt said would force states to pick between COVID-19 relief funds or their tax policies. Schmitt said the suit was meant to provide clarity on the reach of the bill’s tax provisions.
“Properly understood, the tax mandate imposes only a very narrow restriction on the states’ ability to cut taxes — it merely prohibits the states from taking COVID-19 relief funds and deliberately applying them to offset a specific tax reduction of a similar amount,” the lawsuit said.
The suit was dismissed in mid-May, with the judge finding the matter was “not ripe for adjudication” and that the impact was too speculative to be further considered.
Oil and gas operations on federal land
Schmitt joined 13 states on a suit against the new president on March 24 for an executive order imposing a moratorium on future gas and oil leasing and drilling permits on federal land.
“President Biden’s actions will negatively impact a wide swath of Missourians and Missouri industries, including agriculture, manufacturing, and more,” Schmitt said in a statement. “Missourians are already feeling the pain at the gas pump, and if President Biden continues to rule by executive order, it will only get worse.”
Wyoming, another state included in the suit, moved for a preliminary injunction in early May, giving the federal government until June to file a response brief.
A federal judge in Louisiana reversed the ban on June 15, citing the “omission of any rational explanation in canceling the lease sales.”
Climate change executive order
Schmitt joined 11 other state attorneys general in a suit against the Biden administration in March, fighting an executive order enacted by the new president.
Executive Order 13990, signed in January, revoked a number of policies from the Trump administration while mandating their review. It also underscored the White House’s focus on clean energy and the environment. The coalition contested the expansion of federal regulations through the executive order, pointing to the potential impacts the mandates could have on various industries.
“Manufacturing, agriculture, and energy production are essential to Missouri’s economy and employ thousands of hard-working Missourians across the state,” Schmitt said in a statement. “From higher energy bills to lost jobs, this massive expansion of federal regulatory power has the potential to impact nearly every household in this state — that’s why today I’m leading a coalition of states to put a stop to this executive order and protect Missouri families.”
American Rescue Plan Act
Schmitt and 20 other attorneys general signed a letter March 16 asking the U.S. Department of Treasury to ensure the American Rescue Plan Act will not impede states’ ability to implement taxes, noting the act forbids states from offsetting reductions in tax revenues with COVID-19 relief funds.
“Congress should have no say or control over Missouri’s ability to cut taxes, and the American Rescue Plan should not hinder Missouri’s ability to cut taxes,” Schmitt said. “That’s why I joined this 21-state coalition — to get a clarification from the Treasury Department and ensure that the federal government isn’t overreaching into state tax policy.”
Schmitt joined 20 other state attorneys general on a suit against the Biden administration for the revocation of the Keystone XL Pipeline on March 17. The suit argued the administration did not have the authority to cancel the permit under the U.S. Constitution and violated the separation of powers by making a move relegated to Congress.
Schmitt backed a letter urging Biden to reinstate the permit in February. The letter alleged the revocation would lead to thousands of displaced workers and increase the nation’s reliance on energy produced in other countries.
“The revocation of the 2019 Presidential Permit for the Keystone XL pipeline is a job-killing decision that will burden Missourians with higher energy bills, including those who are already being crushed amidst the pandemic,” Schmitt said. “President Biden needs to reverse his decision immediately – the jobs and livelihoods of thousands are at stake.”
The pipeline was terminated in June after Biden refused to reinstate the permit.
Schmitt led 18 states in a letter asking the president to reverse the cancellation of Operation Talon, an ICE initiative focused on removing illegally present sexual offenders from the country in February. The letter argued the program’s cancellation could encourage predators seeking to illegally enter the country and exacerbate human trafficking.
The program has not been reinstated as of June 17.
In December, Schmitt threw his weight behind Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s challenge of the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. The suit alleged the four battleground states leveraged the COVID-19 pandemic to alter voting laws improperly and sway the election. Schmitt led 16 other states in the amicus brief.
“The integrity of our elections is of critical importance to maintaining our republic, both today and in future elections,” Schmitt said at the time. “The stakes of protecting our Constitution, defending our liberty, and ensuring that all votes are counted fairly couldn’t be higher. With this brief, we are joining the fight.”
The U.S. Supreme Court dismissed the case that same month.
Another notable suit was leveled against another country: Schmitt sued the Chinese government — namely the People’s Republic of China and the Chinese Communist Party — alleging the suppression of important information and the silencing of whistleblowers over the COVID-19 pandemic last year. Missouri was the first state to do so, with Mississippi following shortly thereafter.
“In Missouri, the impact of the virus is very real — thousands have been infected and many have died, families have been separated from dying loved ones, small businesses are shuttering their doors, and those living paycheck to paycheck are struggling to put food on their table,” Schmitt said of the suit. “The Chinese government lied to the world about the danger and contagious nature of COVID-19, silenced whistleblowers, and did little to stop the spread of the disease. They must be held accountable for their actions.”
Schmitt officially served the Chinese government on May 19, 2021.
This story has been updated. It was originally published March 15.
Cameron Gerber studied journalism at Lincoln University. Prior to Lincoln, he earned an associate’s degree from State Fair Community College. Cameron is a native of Eldon, Missouri.
Contact Cameron at email@example.com.