WASHINGTON (CN) – A group of attorneys petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court Friday to determine whether President Donald Trump’s appointment of acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker is valid.
“Mr. Rosenstein — as the Senate-confirmed Deputy Attorney General — automatically succeeded to the role of Acting Attorney General,” lead attorneys Michael Zapin and Tom Goldstein claim in their 32-page petition, adding that Whitaker’s appointment violates the constitution.
The attorneys represent Barry Michaels, who sued the State of Nevada after claiming it violated his rights when it forbade him from purchasing a firearm due to previous non-violent criminal convictions.
The attorneys say President Trump’s appointment of Whitaker creates a problem for their own suit because the recently-resigned attorney general Jeff Sessions was named as defendant.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein should take his place in the case, the attorneys argue.
“This is an extraordinary case in which the identity of the successor is both contested and has important implications for the administration of justice nationally,” the motion said.
President Trump appointed Matthew Whitaker, former chief of staff for Sessions, as acting attorney general after Sessions’ resignation.
But Zapin and Goldstein say the Attorney General Succession Act requires the acting attorney general to receive Senate confirmation in the case of a vacancy, and that a direct presidential appointment for the position is not valid.