California Legislature Retains Eric Holder As Outside Counsel


The California legislature is readying itself for a fight. California Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) and California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) have retained former United States Attorney General Eric Holder as outside counsel to help defend the state from possibly adverse federal policies under the Trump administration.

In a statement released yesterday, the policymakers said – “With the upcoming change in administrations, we expect that there will be extraordinary challenges for California in the uncertain times ahead. The Legislature will work with the Governor and our next Attorney General to protect California’s economy and our sensible policies on climate change, health care, civil rights and immigration. This is a critical moment in the history of our nation. We have an obligation to defend the people who elected us and the policies and diversity that make California an example of what truly makes our nation great.

To accomplish that we will assemble the best and brightest in defense of our values and constitutional guarantees, and towards that end, the Legislature has retained the services of an expert legal team from the nationally-renowned Covington & Burling law firm, led by former United States Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. Mr. Holder and his team will serve as outside counsel to the Legislature, advising us in our efforts to resist any attempts to roll back the progress California has made.”

Holder recently resigned his post at the Justice Department and has returned to practicing law. His arrangement with California will see him lead a team of attorneys from Covington & Burling that will respond to any conflicts that arise between the state and the federal government.

It remains unclear how much the arrangement will cost the state, or when Holder will be called in over the attorney general.

The arrangement is unusual, as the state attorney general typically fills the role now occupied by Holder. However, California is currently without an attorney general. Governor Jerry Brown has formally nominated Democratic Rep. Xavier Becerra to replace former Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris, who now serves in the U.S. Senate, but Becerra still needs to be confirmed. California’s legislative leadership told the Los Angeles Times that while Becerra is expected to be easily confirmed, they want additional legal firepower to protect California’s policy positions.

“I am honored that the legislature chose Covington to serve as its legal advisor as it considers how to respond to potential changes in federal law that could impact California’s residents and policy priorities. I am confident that our expertise across a wide array of federal legal and regulatory issues will be a great resource to the legislature,” said former United States Attorney General Eric H. Holder in a statement on the arrangement.