The duties of state attorneys general vary across the United States. Some are charged with defending state law against federal challenges, and others aren't. Some state attorneys general have the power to attack state statutes, and others do not. These responsibilities are further differentiated among states in that some states...
The duties of state attorneys general vary across the United States. Some are charged with defending state law against federal challenges, and others aren't. Some state attorneys general have the power to attack state statutes, and others do not. These responsibilities are further differentiated among states in that some states elect their attorneys general while other states appoint an attorney general by various means. The attorneys general in Alaska, Hawaii, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Wyoming are appointed by the governor. The attorney general in Tennessee is appointed by the Tennessee Supreme Court, and in Maine, the position is filled via an election held by the state legislature.
Because states vary so much in what they expect from their state attorney general, the answer to this question may vary from state to state. But generally speaking, an appointment takes the power from the citizens and grants more power to the government. If a governor appoints an attorney general for his state, it becomes easier for him to select an attorney who will interpret the law in a way that favors the political leanings of the governor, which could directly impact the populace. Electing attorneys general generally supports greater democratic accountability and a more equitable performance of the government as a whole, since each position is presumably carefully considered by voters.
An argument against elected attorneys general is that people often spend precious little time investigating this particular election and tend to vote along party lines, anyway. Therefore, the process of an election doesn't necessarily indicate that the populace has given necessary consideration to the candidate's positions on key issues that might impact their state. There are several studies that reflect citizens' inability to name their attorney general at all, let alone indicate anything about their state attorney general's platforms. Some also insist that the duties of a state attorney general are too complex for most citizens to grasp and that voters cannot reasonably choose a candidate because they are poorly prepared to interpret the administrative, legal, and reasoning functions required of the position.
I hope this helps you thoughtfully consider your own position regarding whether electing a state attorney general or appointing someone to the position is better for a state's citizens.