12:47 P.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon. I want to welcome these extraordinary national leaders, the attorneys general, for meeting this afternoon to talk about, I think, one of the most pressing issues in terms of one of the core responsibilities of attorneys general, which is to concern themselves with the safety, the health, and the wellbeing of the populations of their state and, by extension, their country.
I do want to also mention that we — the President, myself, many of us — are deeply concerned and troubled by the Supreme Court’s ruling today. It, I believe, defies common sense and the Constitution of the United States.
I was in Buffalo. I attended one of the funerals. We have seen the massacre of 19 babies and their teachers in Uvalde. We can go on down the list about why it, yet again, is on the front pages, so to speak, of the concern of the American people about what we can and what we have a responsibility to do in terms of reasonable gun safety laws.
And it is for that reason that I believe that the Supreme Court’s decision today defies logic in terms of what we know we are capable of doing with reasonable gun safety laws to secure the safety and the wellbeing of the people of our nation.
And to the subject at hand: As a former Attorney General, I know the work of these extraordinary leaders, and it is the work of being charged with great responsibility — the responsibility to safeguard some of our most fundamental rights and freedoms.
It is the responsibility to enforce civil rights protections. It is the responsibility to protect consumers. It is the responsibility as a chief legal officer, which each of them has a responsibility of being, to concern themselves with making sure that the laws that are passed in their state do comport with the constitutions of their state and with the United States Constitution, and to ensure that enforcement is conducted in a way that is fair and equal in terms of the treatment of the laws and the enforcement of the laws in their state.
And so, I thank them for being here today. We are specifically going to talk about an extension of their responsibilities, which has to do with the responsibility to concern themselves with the priority of ensuring the health, safety, and wellbeing of the women in their state and — and the protection of their reproductive rights and freedoms.
And so, I have asked these attorneys general to meet with us, knowing they have a pivotal role to play in defending women’s reproductive freedom and their rights to make decisions about their own bodies.
As reproductive rights are being restricted around our country and potentially by the Supreme Court soon, I think we believe and we’ve started preliminary discussions about how attorneys general — state attorneys general have the power — may have the power, at the very least, to issue guidance to ensure that the people of their state know their rights; that they have the power to assess and potentially challenge the constitutionality of laws that are being passed in their states; and to convene legal organizations, non-profit law firms around what the legal community in their state can do, has the ability to do, to offer pro-bono services, to offer services to the folks who will be affected by the laws that are being passed in their states.
And, of course, for those attorneys general that have the jurisdiction around criminal prosecution in their states and, therefore, law enforcement — as many of them are the chief law enforcement officer of their state — the ability to direct law enforcement resources in a way that, again, is actually effective in ensuring the safety and the wellbeing of the people of their state.
So, this is the conversation we are going to have. I think it’s a very important point to make that, in 43 states in our nation, the people elect their attorney general.
And so I urge the people of our country to know the power that they have to — to have an impact on how the laws of their state are enforced by paying attention to who their attorney general is and where they stand on this important issue in terms of enforcing the principles, the spirit, and the ideals of the Constitution of the United States in a way that is about equal treatment of all people.
And so, with that, I thank you all again, these extraordinary leaders, for convening today. And I look forward to our discussion. And we will now begin our discussion. So, thank you to the press for being here. And I’ll wish you a good day.
END 12:52 P.M. EDT
Remarks by Vice President Harris in a Meeting with State Attorneys General on Protecting Reproductive Healthcare Access
12:47 P.M. EDT