California's Democratic state leadership Wednesday tapped former Attorney General Eric Holder as a legal advisor to the legislature as the state prepares for conflicts with a new Republican-controlled Congress and President-elect Donald Trump.
California is likely to see challenges to its policies for immigration, health care, climate change, education and civil rights given the new political landscape in Washington.
"It's going to be California versus Donald Trump quite frankly, from the state level on up," said Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, a political analyst and political science professor at the University of Southern California. She called it a "wise decision politically and strategically" for California legislators to retain Holder to be on the ground in Washington "to be onsite opposition to Trump and his policies."
Holder currently serves as a partner at the law firm Covington & Burling. He served from 2009 to 2015 in President Barack Obama's Cabinet and was the first African-American to hold the office of attorney general. Prior to that, Holder held positions requiring Senate confirmation in the administrations of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.
"I am honored that the legislature chose Covington to serve as its legal advisor as it considers how to respond to potential changes in federal law that could impact California's residents and policy priorities," Holder said in a statement. "I am confident that our expertise across a wide array of federal legal and regulatory issues will be a great resource to the legislature."
As U.S. attorney general, Holder defended constitutional challenges to the 2010 Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Covered California, the health insurance marketplace formed to implement Obamacare in the state, currently has 1.3 million enrollees — making it the largest of the state-run health exchanges.