New Attorney General Spotlight: Michigan AG-elect Dana Nessel

This blog post is one of a series of posts highlighting newly elected Attorneys General, and commenting on how their priorities may differ from their predecessors’. Click here to read the full series.

Before election on November 6, Michigan AG-elect Dana Nessel worked as an assistant prosecutor, a civil rights lawyer, and a defense attorney. She is best known for her work as lead attorney for plaintiffs April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, whose lawsuit was consolidated with Obergefell v. Hodges, the U.S. Supreme Court case that declared state recognition of same-sex marriages a constitutional imperative.

During her campaign, Nessel addressed a number of issues she is likely to address as AG:  many of Nessel’s positions as attorney general will be diametrically opposed to those of her Republican predecessor. In a departure from the position of the current AG, Nessel has listed      taking Enbridge Energy to court in order to shut down its oil and gas pipeline. Additionally, she has promised to review the investigation into the Flint Water Crisis, stating that new charges could be forthcoming. She also expressed a commitment to protect civil rights, especially LGBTQ rights.  Finally, the passage of Proposal 1 has cleared a path for the sale of recreational marijuana in Michigan. While her predecessor consistently opposed even medical marijuana, Nessel was outspoken in her support for the legalization and regulation of cannabis for everyone over the age of twenty-one. On the campaign trail, she criticized former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions for opening the door to federal marijuana prosecutions in states that have decriminalized the drug.  While Nessel will have no direct role in recreational marijuana regulation, she has indicated that she plans to push for legislation to expunge previous convictions for simple marijuana possession when she assumes her new role as AG.

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