D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine has ascended to become the national leader of his fellow state and territorial attorneys general for a one-year term where he will focus on the increase in hate crime and how to combat it.
On Dec. 3, the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), the nonpartisan trade association for the 56 state and territorial level legal officers, elected Racine as its president.
Racine, a Democrat, replaced Montana Attorney General Tim Fox (R) as president.
With his election, Racine becomes the first non-state and immigrant-background attorney general to lead the association. In addition, he becomes the second African American to lead the association, with Thurbert Baker of Georgia — who served from 2006-2007 — being the first. Racine expressed gratitude with his election.
“Thank you to my fellow attorneys general across the country for providing me the opportunity to lead NAAG as its next president,” he said. “This honor is a testament to the D.C. Office of the Attorney General’s talented team and their tireless work fighting for justice and equality, standing up for the rule of law, and protecting District residents. In 2021, I look forward to working with attorneys general and their staff to focus our collective efforts on analyzing and addressing the scourge of hate in America. From the genocide of Native Americans, slavery, systematic racism, anti-semitism and discrimination of all forms, I can think of no better group than attorneys general — people’s lawyers — to combat the dehumanization and debasement of people that forms the basis for hate and bias-motivated violence.”
Racine has served as the District’s chief elected legal officer since 2015 and has been the only one to hold the position since its creation by city voters in 2010. Last year, he served as the president-elect of NAAG, a position that the organization uses as a steppingstone to its presidency.
Racine will be the chief voice for the association on issues it addresses. For example, when Texas Attorney General Ken Paxson, a member of the association, led an effort of 18 attorneys general to take to the U.S. Supreme Court the validity of the Biden-Harris election to the White House in November, Racine organized 23 of his colleagues to submit a brief to the high court opposing him. On Dec. 11, the Supreme Court refused to hear the case. Racine praised the Supreme Court’s move.
“When our coalition of 23 attorneys general submitted our brief to the Supreme Court opposing the Texas lawsuit, we had no doubt where the court would ultimately stand,” he said. “Tonight, the highest court in the land has soundly rejected AG Paxson’s frivolous lawsuit, and resisted Donald Trump’s unprecedented, coercive pressure. In doing so, the court has affirmed the principles upon which the greatest democracy in the history of the world was founded. We applaud the justices’ commitment to the rule of law, to the democratic process and to our Constitution.”
While Racine took time to deal with election case, his main thrust will be to address the growing hate crime throughout the country. His presidential initiative titled “The People v. Hate: Standing Up for Humanity” will work with attorneys general to raise awareness of hate and bias and utilize strategies to prevent it from growing, support citizens who work against it and share best practices in improving hate crime data. NAAG Executive Director Chris Toth said Racine’s initiative will be an important part of the association’s work next year.
“As public advocates, attorneys general have a crucial role in defending their communities against hate,” Toth said. “General Racine’s presidential initiative will further NAAG’s efforts to promote the exchange of knowledge, experiences and insights among America’s attorneys general and to support their work protecting the people.”