Herbert Slatery III (R) served as attorney general of Tennessee from 2014–22 and was the first Republican since Reconstruction who was appointed to the position by the state Supreme Court (which is how the AG position is filled in Tennessee). In May 2022, he announced that he would not seek another eight-year term but provided no explanation for his decision.
During his tenure, Slatery politicized the AG’s office more than his predecessors had, according to critics. Among the many right-wing legal policies he pushed as AG was for Tennessee to resume executions of death row inmates, a move that surprised many attorneys in the state. In 2016, he fought the Obama administration’s gender equity policies on allowing transgender students to use bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity, partnering with 10 other states to file a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education.
In 2021, Slatery joined 22 other state AGs in condemning the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act prior to its passage, claiming that the voter protection legislation was “a misguided, clumsy, and heavy-handed effort to circumvent Supreme Court decisions, state sovereignty, and the will of the people.”
January 6, 2021
- Slatery is a former member of the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA). RAGA oversees the Rule of Law Defense Fund, which funded robocalls encouraging Trump supporters to convene in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021 to protest the outcome of the presidential election as Congress certified the Electoral College results.
The Big Lie
- In December 2020, Slatery and 16 other Republican AGs filed an amicus brief in Texas v. Pennsylvania, a lawsuit filed with the Supreme Court in which Texas alleged that Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, and Wisconsin violated the Constitution by changing election procedures through non-legislative means. The amicus brief supported the “independent state legislature theory,” which argues that a state’s legislature is the only branch of state government allowed to oversee elections. The Supreme Court quickly dismissed the case due to lack of standing.
- In a statement defending his decision to join the Texas amicus brief, Slatery wrote: “The Tennessee Attorney General’s Office has consistently taken the position that only a State’s legislature has the authority to make and change election laws. This Office pressed that argument in cases defending Tennessee’s election laws against pandemic-related challenges and in amicus briefs in cases involving similar challenges in other courts. This is not something new.”