Attorneys general to meet in Oklahoma City this week


Monday, June 9th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The states' top legal officers have become a force for national change by banding together over the last decade, Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson said Monday.

Edmondson is president of the National Association of Attorneys General, which will have its summer meeting in Oklahoma City this week.

``I think the last eight to 10 years have seen the attorneys general emerge as a very potent force for change, nationally,'' Edmondson said.

``I think what we did in the tobacco settlement was historic and we've had a similar impact on sweepstakes companies, on some pharmaceutical companies and in other areas that did not receive quite that much publicity.''

Oklahoma received more than $2 billion after attorneys general from several states reached a 1998 settlement with tobacco companies, which will have to pay $200 billion to states during the next 25 years.

The willingness of attorneys general to work together in multistate legal actions ``has really enhanced the authority and impact of our office,'' Edmondson said.

Highlights of the group's convention will include a report from Edmondson on legal issues surrounding end-of-life care and an announcement on plans to fight a federal appeals court ruling that the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional.

Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Watson will join Edmondson on Wednesday to discuss legal arguments being filed with the Supreme Court in that case.

Edmondson said it was his personal and legal opinion that the California federal court was wrong. He said he was a grade school student when ``under God'' was added to the national pledge.

``I think I was a much more onerous child when I learned it without 'under God' it,'' he quipped. ``I behaved much better after that.''

Also on Wednesday, Edmondson will report on what he has learned during a series of conferences on end-of-life issues, such as pain management, advance care planning and professional competence.

At the end of the meeting, Edmondson will turn over his leadership role to California Attorney General Bill Lockyear.