Will New York’s next Attorney General be a gay black man?

Will New York’s next Attorney General be a gay black man?
Alphonso David Photo: Cardozo School of Law

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman knows how swift justice can be – first hand. Within hours of The New Yorker publishing allegations that Schneiderman had physically assaulted four women with whom he had relationships, he had resigned from his position.

Schneiderman regularly filed cases in support of LGBTQ rights. He’s also has been a high-profile opponent of President Trump, filing  a lawsuits against Trump University and taking a lead role in the legal challenge to the president’s travel ban. His replacement will quickly step into the spotlight as one of Trump’s chief legal nemeses.

Among Schneiderman’s potential replacements is Alphonso David, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s chief counsel. David’s appointment would be a particularly pointed statement by the state legislature, which will name Schneiderman’s successor. In addition to being a gay black man, David is also the son of immigrants.

Born in the U.S., David was raised in Liberia, where his father was an elected official. When David was 10, his father was jailed in a military coup. The family sought asylum in the U.S., which was granted because David was a U.S. citizen.

“My interest in the law is fairly self-evident,” David told the Amersterdam News, “in part because of the war and understanding democracy and understanding how things work. My interest in the law was sparked.”

After graduating from law school, David worked at a law firm in Philadelphia and corporate counsel at a company in California. But following the Supreme Court decision striking down sodomy laws as unconstitutional, David decided to focus on human rights, accepting a position at Lambda Legal Defense.

He joined New York State government in 2007, eventually ending up at Cuomo’s main lawyer.

David isn’t the only name being bruited about for the position. Preet Bharara, whom Trump fired as a U.S. attorney last year, is also being mentioned. Bharara earned a reputation as an aggressive prosecutor and would follow in Schneiderman’s footsteps in pursuing questionable dealings by Trump.

The ultimate decision will be a political one, of course. But David offers a compelling personal narrative that counters the Trump worldview. Whoever is the choice will certainly have no shortage of opportunities to challenge the president for his lavish disrespect for the law.


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