Nebraska AG Doug Peterson: The Junk Lawsuit King
Doug Peterson was a successful trial lawyer before he was elected Attorney General in 2014. While he was in private practice, Peterson undoubtedly learned that attorneys are barred from filing junk lawsuits and appeals. Judges have broad authority to fine attorneys who bring frivolous legal actions. An attorney who brings multiple baseless cases could even face the prospect of having one’s law license suspended. This is a rule that the overwhelming majority of lawyers take very seriously.
Since Peterson has been Attorney General, he has politicized the office for partisan political purposes and governed as an extremist committed to advancing the agenda of Donald Trump and the right wing of the GOP. As Attorney General, Peterson has gotten the state of Nebraska involved in several junk and hyper-partisan right wing lawsuits.
In 2020 alone, Peterson suffered stinging defeats in three of his frivolous cases. First of all, the Supreme Court rejected Peterson’s argument that LGBT citizens aren’t protected from discrimination by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That was followed up by a ruling that dismissed Peterson’s attempt to terminate the DACA program and kick approximately 800,000 young people out of the country.
Peterson’s most ridiculous (and dangerous case) was the junk lawsuit filed by Texas, Nebraska and 16 other red states aimed at throwing out the 62 electoral votes for Joe Biden in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Peterson and his extreme allies asked the high court to disenfranchise millions of voters.
Doug Peterson’s hero, Donald Trump, intervened in this case, saying this was the “Big One. ” Interestingly enough, the disgraced, former one term president was represented by a new attorney, John Eastman, who is best known for advancing a racist conspiracy theory that claimed Vice President-elect Kamala Harris wasn’t eligible for the office because her parents were immigrants. You can’t make this stuff up.
Former Creighton University Law School Dean and current law professor Patrick Borchers posted the following about this case on his Facebook page: Texas’s attempt to bring a suit against four other states over the election is in technical legal terms “bonkers.”
Other legal experts decried Peterson’s case and correctly predicted that the Supreme Court would reject it. Election law expert Rick Hasen said this about the Nebraska/Texas filing: “This is a press release masquerading as a lawsuit. … What utter garbage. Dangerous garbage, but garbage.” As it turned out, the Supreme Court didn’t even grant oral arguments and dismissed Texas’ lawsuit with a one line order.
Perhaps the most partisan lawsuit Peterson filed on behalf of his fellow citizens was the Trump/Ricketts lawsuit aimed at invalidating the entire Affordable Care Act (ACA) without a replacement plan. Jeff Fortenberry, Don Bacon and Adrian Smith all voted for this case in the House. Peterson petitioned un-elected judges with taxpayer funded health insurance to take away insurance coverage from 20 million Americans and end pre-existing condition protections.
The most conservative Supreme Court majority since 1936 made short work of the Nebraska GOP/Trump lawsuit. On June 17, the Supreme Court affirmed the ACA for a third time by a 7–2 vote. Four Republican appointees voted in favor the ACA. The case was so weak that the Supreme Court didn’t even reach the merits — this frivolous case was thrown out on standing grounds.
We didn’t get in this predicament over night. It took years for the radicalized Nebraska GOP to win most of the major offices in the state with the assistance of vast amounts of special interest campaign cash and daily lies from the right wing media. All we can do as Democrats is roll up our sleeves and devote our time and money to good candidates. Thank you for all that you do!