Braden Boucek Says Selection of Jonathan Skrmetti As TN AG a Win for Tennesseans

Live from Music Row Friday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Southeastern Legal Foundation Director of Litigation Braden Boucek to the newsmaker line to discuss the recent Tennessee state attorney general appointment of conservative Jonathan Skrmetti.

Leahy: On our newsmaker line, our good friend Braden Boucek formerly the vice president of Legal Affairs at the Beacon Center for about six years. And for about a year and a half now, the director of Litigation at the Southeastern Legal Foundation. Good morning, Braden. How are you doing?

Boucek: Good morning! It’s great to be back on Michael.

Leahy: We have some news that broke earlier this week in the state of Tennessee. The only state in the Union where the state Supreme Court selects the Attorney General. We did a lot of reporting about this, and I think we helped encourage the Supreme Court to be more transparent about the candidates in the process.

They announced earlier this week that the new Attorney General, who will start an eight-year term, was one of the six candidates who went before them in public hearings. His name is Jonathan Skrmetti.

He looks pretty strong to me as a conservative. What are your thoughts about the selection of Jonathan Skrmetti as a new Attorney General for the State of Tennessee?

Boucek: I don’t think the Tennessee Supreme Court could have selected a better lawyer anywhere in the country. I’ve known Jonathan Skrmetti for a long time, and Tennesseans are going to be very happy.

This is a man who has impeccable credentials and is deeply devoted to the Constitution and protecting the rights of ordinary Tennesseans.

Leahy: He’s a Harvard Law School graduate, a smart guy, and he’s worked within the Attorney General’s office. He’s also been chief legal counsel to Governor Bill Lee.

But he’s got a strong reputation. He’s been in the Federalist Society, right? The conservative constitutionalist group of lawyers. I think you’re a member of that group also, aren’t you?

Boucek: I am, actually. I was visiting the headquarters just this week. But Jonathan has been a very active figure in Federalist Society circles for a long time.

He’s actually on an executive committee on administrative law, which is one topic area I think you can expect to see him heavily involved in the Tennessee Attorney General’s office. So Jonathan has been around for a long time. He’s a known quantity, and he has a very strong commitment to the Constitution.

Leahy: We did our own analysis of the six candidates, and I think they’re all qualified. But in our view, Jonathan was by far the strongest conservative constitutionalist on that list. And I think that the Tennessee Supreme Court made an excellent choice.

Even though I’ve been a critic of our peculiar process here, of selecting Attorney Generals. (Boucek chuckles) You laugh at this, right?

When you go to somebody who doesn’t live in Tennessee or even people in Tennessee, and you say, how do you pick your Attorney General? And when you say, well, according to our Constitution, the Supreme Court picks them, they look at you like you’re crazy.

Boucek: Yes, it is an unusual process, but in this case, I think Tennessee is exceptionally well served by it. I mean, Jonathan is not just the strongest conservative on any particular list; Jonathan is the strongest conservative on any list.

And he’s also, and you can’t overstate this, a highly effective person, lawyer, and litigator. So I don’t think you’re going to see Jonathan out there doing a whole bunch of bomb-throwing press conferences.

But I think that if you give them enough time, you’re going to see that he plays the long game and you’re going to see extreme and major victories that he’s produced.

Leahy: Let’s talk about this a little bit about the role of the Attorney General in a state. Increasingly now we see a highly politicized Department of Justice. The Attorney General of the United States, Merrick Garland is clearly nothing but a partisan political hack.

It seems to me now that the duties of the Attorney General in a red state are even greater than they’ve ever been before. And these Attorneys General, including now, starting September 1st, Jonathan Skrmetti, are going to be really required to push back against the ever politicized increased usurpations of state rights by the Department of Justice at the federal level. Your thoughts on that?

Boucek: I think that this is going to be a huge point of emphasis for the Tennessee Attorney General’s office. Obviously, the federal government has ambitions about its size and scope, and involvement in the lives of everyday Americans that we have not seen in a long time.

And I think the Attorney General’s office, and in particular, Tennessee has a real role to play in protecting Tennesseans and giving them the right to set their own constitutional prerogatives.

I think based on Jonathan’s involvement in administrative law in the past, I think you’re going to see heavy, heavy pushback on Washington D.C. and asserting the rights of Tennesseans to set their own constitutional boundaries. That’s just one of two points of emphasis I would expect to see in Jonathan’s practice.

Leahy: What would be the other point of emphasis?

Boucek: It came up at his hearing, but he was asked a lot of questions about the role of the Tennessee Attorney General in reigning in Big Tech.

And Jonathan definitely not an anti-business or anti-free market guy, but I think that he emphasized that there’s a real need for the Tennessee Attorney General to make sure that those companies are held accountable to the same degree that an auto dealership in Collierville would be held accountable.

So there are a lot of tools in the toolbox for the Tennessee Attorney General to ensure that kind of accountability. And of course, the legislature can always give the Tennessee Attorney General more tools to put in the toolbox and I hope to see more collaboration between the respective branches of government now that we’ve got a really solid conservative Attorney General.

Leahy: It’s interesting, I think he has a unique opportunity here because historically Herb Slattery worked for the former Governor Haslam and he ran that office. He was a fine attorney, but he really didn’t seem to be all that plugged into what the Tennessee General Assembly wanted in many instances.

I get a feeling here that Jonathan Skrmetti kind of touches all bases in the sense that he worked for Governor Lee. Governor Lee was very pleased with this appointment, as was I.

It was one of the unusual times when Governor Lee and I are in agreement. But then also the members of the Tennessee General Assembly highly praised Skrmetti.

Boucek: Yes, I think you’re exactly over the mark. Obviously, he was the governor’s attorney for a moment there, but prior to that, he was a deputy attorney general at the AG’s office. And one of the responsibilities of the DAG is to liaison between the AG’s office and the legislators.

So Jonathan has an exceptionally good relationship. He is a very polite and harmonious guy, and sometimes that gives off the misperception that he’s a pushover, and I can assure you that he is anything but. Jonathan is a consummate gentleman, but he is not weak, and I think he’s going to be the best attorney general.

Listen to the interview:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.


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One Thought to “Braden Boucek Says Selection of Jonathan Skrmetti As TN AG a Win for Tennesseans”

  1. 83ragtop50

    I sure hope that you guys are right. We have been failed at the AG level for the past 8 years.