Attorney General Eric Schneiderman - Eight Months In

Welcome to Politics Bites, where every afternoon at It's A Free Country, we bring you the unmissable quotes from the morning's political conversations on WNYC. Today on the Brian Lehrer Show, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman discussed his work as New York's chief lawyer.

Eight months into the job, Eric Schneiderman is building his case as a dogged progressive lawyer. He's investigating mortgage lenders for potential abusive practices, trying to help underwater homeowners, is suing the federal government for more environmental data on hydrofracking, and waging a case that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.

Attacking Banks for Abusive Practices on New York Homeowners

Schneiderman said that we know the facts, it's now about holding people accountable and taking them to court.

Making a mistake is not against the law but if you're doing something over and over again and there's internal feedback saying 'this looks pretty bad, are we sure we want to do this' and internally there are a lot of questions being raised, from six months to a year that's one thing, but from '04 to '05 to '06, by 2006 it seems that someone should have known that there were real problems accruing and developing.

Schneiderman said he hopes to aid homeowners who are in homes where the value of their property is less than the value of their mortgage.

Attacking the Federal Government on Fracking

The Attorney General is suing the federal government for more environmental data on the controversial practice of hydrofracking. He said he just wants transparency--and the lawsuit is not a condemnation of fracking.

Issues like fracking, the same sort of issues that relate to nuclear power, my office's posture has been first and foremost let's make sure everything is out in the open, let's get all of the facts out, we're very big on evidenced based practices and evidenced based decision making and that's really the thread that unites all these cases.

Attacking the Federal Government on DOMA

Schneiderman contends the Federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman (and which President Obama has called unconstitutional) is a straightforward violation of equal protection. He's suing the federal government on DOMA's constitutionality.

There is case law and Supreme Court statements going back hundreds of years saying that marriage is something that is a state issue. And really I'm just suing to say that my state has passed a marriage equality law and we're entitled to the same respect and the same equal treatment to marriage as every other state.

On Restoring Trust to Government and Wall Street

Schneiderman also poetically mused that "when it comes to the government, the trust bank is empty." As for Wall Street, which tanked so drastically today,

This is a matter of restoring public confidence. People do not believe that there's one set of rules for everyone on Wall Street anymore, we have to restore that confidence for the markets to get going. And as you can see the housing markets are still paralyzed by the overhang from this disaster.

From what we can tell, Schneiderman hasn't exactly struck out on his own just yet, but he's striding out on all the traditional progressive paths.

Disclosure: Schneiderman’s father, Irwin Schneiderman, is a member of the WNYC Board of Trustees and has been a long-time donor to the station.