Jeff Jackson on how he’d defend abortion rights and democracy as NC Attorney General

AP Photo/Gerry Broome

By Dylan Rhoney

February 14, 2024

What’s the best job in the world? Chances are, we all have a different answer to that question.

For North Carolina Congressman Jeff Jackson, it’s the one he’s campaigning for this year.

“If you like public service, being attorney general is the best job in the world. It is really about public service,” Jackson told Cardinal & Pine in an interview. “It’s really not about ‘left vs. right’… I think my entire life has been dedicated to standing up for people who need it, and that is the mission of a good attorney general.”

Jackson has been a fixture in North Carolina politics for a decade. He was appointed to fill an open seat in the State Senate in 2014, winning the local Democratic Party’s nominating contest by a single vote. Jackson would go on to serve four terms in the legislature before successfully running for Congress in 2022.

His tenure in the US House will be short lived, however, after the new Republican majority on the North Carolina Supreme Court reversed a prior ruling and allowed the state’s Republican legislature to implement newly gerrymandered congressional maps that make Jackson’s district virtually unwinnable for him.

Shortly after the new maps were released, Jackson, a former assistant district attorney in Gaston County, business attorney, and a major in the Army’s Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps, announced he would seek the office of attorney general (AG).

Jackson says his approach to running the AG’s office will differ from his focus as a legislator.

“Being elected attorney general means you are running the North Carolina Department of Justice on day one. The day to day of it is also very different… although there is a legislative advocacy component, it’s more about ‘alright, let’s find the threats that people are facing, and let’s go after them.’”

Defending Abortion Rights

One of the top issues that could impact voters’ decisions in 2024 is abortion rights. The issue could be particularly relevant in the race for attorney general, as the AG’s office decides which cases to pursue or not pursue in court.

Last year, the North Carolina General Assembly’s Republican supermajority banned abortions after 12 weeks, with some limited exceptions. Jackson, who supports reproductive freedom , believes that if a Republican is elected attorney general, further restrictions could be enacted.

“I think one of the major nightmare scenarios is that we have an attorney general with a direct line to a very conservative state Supreme Court, and the two of them working in tandem, can do a lot to roll back reproductive freedom.”

Jackson said that even if a governor vetoed further restrictions to reproductive rights, an attorney general could potentially bypass that veto.

“We could very well have a governor who believes in reproductive freedom, and has a veto that could be sustained, and yet, a conservative attorney general who doesn’t believe in reproductive freedom and a State Supreme Court who feels the same way could do an end around that governor and that veto.”

Republicans currently have a 5-2 majority on the state Supreme Court and Jackson believes Dan Bishop—an anti-abortion North Carolina congressman and the frontrunner for the Republican Party’s nomination for AG—- could work in tandem with the court to pose a real threat to abortion rights and access in North Carolina.

“He wants to strip women of reproductive freedoms, and he would do that by working in tandem with a state Supreme Court that I think also wants the same thing,” Jackson said. “That could invite certain kinds of lawsuits from him on abortion medication, or the provision of abortion, and they could run all kinds of offense on reproductive freedom from that perch.”

Incumbent North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein has declined to defend provisions of the 12-week abortion ban in court. Furthermore, his office has joined a group of 24 attorneys general across the country in asking the US Supreme Court to overturn a US Circuit Court ruling limiting access to the abortion medication, mifepristone. Jackson says he would follow in Stein’s footsteps if he were elected.

“I think those bills are unconstitutional. I would not defend them. I think restricting access in that manner is a violation of both due process and the First Amendment,” he said.

@cardinalandpine

WATCH: Abortion rights will be one of the top issues on voters’ minds when they head to the polls this year. The race for North Carolina Attorney General could help decide what the future of legal abortion is in the state. @jeffjacksonnc is a Democratic candidate for Attorney General and has pledged to fight for and defend abortion rights. He believes if one of his Republican opponents is elected, however, it could result in further restrictions to reproductive rights in the state. “…an Attorney General with a direct line to a very conservative state Supreme Court, and the two of them working in tandem, can do a lot to roll back reproductive freedom.” For more NC politics news, follow @cardinalandpine.can do a lot to roll back reproductive freedom.” #northcarolina #ncpolitics #abortion #abortionban #ncabortion #roevwade #abortion #abortionrights #prolifegeneration

♬ original sound – Cardinal & Pine

A Possible Faceoff Against An Election Denier

If he wins the Democratic Primary on March 5th, Jackson could face Bishop in the General Election in November.

Bishop was one of 147 Republicans who voted against certifying President Joe Biden’s electoral college victory in Arizona and Pennsylvania, following the Jan. 6th insurrection in 2021.

While Bishop did not condone the attack on the US Capitol Building, he does not believe it was an insurrection.

“If it was an insurrection, it was the worst example of an insurrection in the history of mankind,” Bishop said on the House floor in May 2021, when a commission to investigate the Capitol attack was proposed.

Jackson believes that Bishop’s votes to decertify the election raise questions about his fitness to run the North Carolina Department of Justice.\

“No one who voted to overturn a lawful election can say they care about law and order,” Jackson said.

The Fentanyl Crisis

Under Stein, the North Carolina Department of Justice has been aggressive in pursuing lawsuits against companies that helped perpetrate the opioid epidemic. Through lawsuits Stein has filed and signed onto, the state has secured $1.5 billion in funding to support the victims of the crisis in North Carolina.

Jackson said that further efforts are needed to combat what he now calls the “fentanyl crisis.”

“The opioid crisis has now become a fentanyl crisis. It is basically a mass poisoning. It is killing people in our state every day,” he said.

Jackson believes that it is important that the crisis be combated at the state level.

“I think the next attorney general has to redouble our efforts to disrupt the distribution cells that exist within our state. I think we have to support the passage of an anti-money laundering law, which North Carolina does not have, which we should. It would be helpful, not just in combating the fentanyl epidemic, but also human trafficking.”

North Carolina is one of 20 states that do not have anti-money laundering laws on the books.

Fentanyl deaths have been on the rise in North Carolina in recent years. In 2021, 77% of overdose deaths in the state were attributed to the drug.

Jackson believes that, in addition to cracking down on the trafficking of fentanyl, more needs to be done to help victims fight addiction and usage.

“We need to improve treatment for addiction,” Jackson said. “I think the way you do that is by making sure our judicial system has the resources it needs to help pull people away from the near certain overdose that will occur if they don’t stop using fentanyl.”

@cardinalandpine

The fentanyl crisis has claimed the lives of thousands of North Carolinians in recent years. Congressman @jeffjacksonnc, who is running for North Carolina Attorney General, believes more has to be done at the state level. “The next Attorney General has to redouble our efforts to disrupt the distribution cells that exist within our state,” Jackson told Cardinal & Pine. Jackson also believes the state needs to adopt an anti-money laundering law, which he believes will curtail not only the flow of fentanyl, but also. #fentanylawareness #fentanylkills #fentanylpoisoning #childluring #traffickingawareness #humantrafficking

♬ original sound – Cardinal & Pine

Author

  • Dylan Rhoney

    Dylan Rhoney is an App State grad from Morganton who is passionate about travel, politics, history, and all things North Carolina. He lives in Raleigh.

CATEGORIES: POLITICS
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