Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane addressed students at Harvard Law School on Wednesday, October 30th, 2013. Last November, Kane became the first woman and the first Democrat elected to the position, defeating her opponent by a 14-point margin. Kane told students that she was inspired to run by her mother’s advice that “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” Before the 2012 election, Kane had never run for office.
Kane provided students with an overview of her first ten months as Attorney General. In July, Kane announced that she would not defend Pennsylvania’s “Defense of Marriage Act,” leaving the law to be defended in court by the PA Governor’s Office of the General Counsel.
At HLS, Kane explained her decision to delegate the DOMA case’s defense back to the governor’s office as a matter of professional ethics, given her own belief that the law is clearly unconstitutional.
“Based on the Pennsylvania rules of professional conduct, when I find what my client has done to be repugnant, I have a duty to let someone else represent my client.”
“The DOMA issue and equality for all is not a Democratic or progressive issue,” said Kane, but a non-partisan question of defending Constitutional values.
“We have been battling inequality since the founding of this country.”
Kane distinguished her decision not to defend DOMA from her legal defense of the state’s voter ID law, saying that while DOMA was unconstitutional on its face, the voter ID law was not, even if it is the case that implementation of the voter ID law could raise constitutional questions.
Kane also described her efforts to close the Florida loophole for concealed carry weapon permits in Pennsylvania, her work breaking up a turnpike contract pay-to-play scheme, her investigation of the Milton Hershey School Trust, and her successful challenge to the Governor’s attempt to privatize the state lottery without going through the legislature.