Document Type




Publication Date



Oxford University Press

Source Publication

Publius: The Journal of Federalism

Source ISSN



A key development during the Obama Administration was the increasing importance of state attorneys general (AGs) in national policymaking. This article examines the dual role that AGs played during the Obama years. The first role was highly contentious, with Republican AGs leading several multistate challenges to Obama Administration priorities and successfully limiting President Obama’s policy legacy. The second role was more cooperative, involving increasing coordination between AGs and their federal counterparts in national enforcement efforts. Relying on case studies in the areas of immigration enforcement, climate change regulation, and the oversight of for-profit higher education, this article highlights several crucial trends concerning the activities of these important state-level actors.


This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in Publius: The Journal of Federalism following peer review. The version of record, “The Dual Role of State Attorneys General in American Federalism: Conflict and Cooperation in an Era of Partisan Polarization,” Publius: The Journal of Federalism, Volume 47, Issue 3, 1 July 2017, Pages 342–377 is available online at: DOI: 10.1093/publius/pjx036. © 2018 Oxford University Press.