Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's comments giving state attorneys general permission to ignore gay marriage bans was a "dangerous precedent to set."
"The impact, really, is it sends a message to the people that the rule of law does not necessarily prevail. I think that really erodes our entire system," Van Hollen, a Republican, told Fox News' "America's Newsroom" on Wednesday.
Holder told the states' attorneys general Monday to let their own opinion
guide laws in their states if they found them discriminatory. He indicated that bans against same-sex marriage would fall into that category.
Holder said, "Engaging in that process and making that determination is something that's appropriate for an attorney general to do."
Van Hollen said, "When you've got the attorney general of the United States, essentially, giving cover to people who believe it's to their political benefit to not do their jobs, obviously it's going to cause some people to say, 'Alright, I've got the ability to do this and get away with it.' And, that's unfortunate."
The rule of law is the "underpinning of any civilized society," Van Hollen argued. He said it is a "horribly slippery slope" when elected officials are allowed to place their opinions above the law and a state's constitution.
South Carolina Republican Attorney General Alan Wilson echoed Van Hollen's views. He maintained that whether or not he agreed with a law, his job was to represent his client, namely the citizens of his state.
"If the state attorney general doesn't stand up for the citizens of their state on a particular law, who else will have standing to go into the court system and represent the interests of the state? Usually, it could be nobody," Wilson said Wednesday on "Fox & Friends."
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