Amid a ‘horrible week for women,’ NY AG James delivers impassioned speech on SCOTUS decisions, women’s rights

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Meet Nia, a nine-year-old who New York Attorney General touted as the “next attorney general” in a rousing speech on Thursday in Van Nest.
Photo ET Rodriguez

New York State Attorney General Letitia James has a contested election in the wings this fall — opposed by Republican challenger and attorney Michael Henry on Nov. 8 — but she already has her eye on her future successor.

Her name? Nia, a nine-year-old who shared the stage with James during a Schneps Media event in Van Nest on Thursday, as James delivered a fiery speech that touched upon a recent slew of U.S. Supreme Court decisions and her role in protecting the liberties of women and New Yorkers across the state while paving a path of mobility for women in the state.

“This little girl said she wants to run for office, so I am putting it in her spirit that she will replace me one day (as attorney general),” James said to a crowd of roughly 300 people at Maestro Caterers. “She’s going to go to school, I’m going to move out of the way because I’ll be old and we are going to have a new attorney general and her name is Nia.”

James said it was a “horrible week” for women across the nation in the wake of the Supreme Court’s controversial 6-3 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade last Friday in their ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, thus kick-starting abortion fights in courtrooms and campaigns across the nation this week.

Before leading some of members of the crowd in a cathartic round of boos for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, James affirmed her role as an uplifter and a “shield” for women in the state as attorney general, in the face of patriarchal challenges.

“As the attorney general, it is my responsibility to lift up women, to lift up marginalized and vulnerable populations … to protect your rights, particularly at a time when the Supreme Court is not respecting your rights as a woman,” said James. “Boo Clarence Thomas. Boo.”

On Monday, James joined a national coalition of 22 attorneys general to issue a joint statement “reaffirming their commitment to supporting and expanding access to abortion care.”

Despite the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, access to safe and legal abortion remains robustly protected in numerous states across the country, including in New York.

It’s been a busy first term for James, who had been a stalwart in New York’s political scene parlaying a long City Council tenure into the city public advocate post in 2013, before ascending to attorney general in 2018.

James also briefly floated a run for the state’s governorship before dropping out of the race in December.

The AG has not only put former President Donald Trump in her sights for alleged fraud in his family’s business activities in the state, but she’s also recently filed a lawsuit against 10 manufacturers of ghost guns, which has been a linchpin in the state’s strategy to stop gun proliferation.

The lawsuit accuses the manufacturers of violating state and federal laws by selling the untraceable weapons to convicted felons and other consumers without conducting background checks.

The companies named in the suit include: Brownells; Blackhawk Manufacturing Group; Salvo Technologies, Inc.; G.S. Performance; Indie Guns; Primary Arms; Arm or Ally; Rainier Arms; KM Tactical and Rock Slide USA.

James said SCOTUS’ 6-3 decision to strike down New York’s handgun-licensing laws that require those seeking to conceal carry to provide special need to do so — is further imperiling New Yorkers.

“(Last Thursday), the court decided to make a decision that will unfortunately turn New York City into the Wild Wild West, but we won’t allow it,” she said. “It’s not going to be the Wild Wild West. It’s not going to be an open season for guns. We will not allow guns to run rampant in New York City, in New York state.”

Reach Robbie Sequeira at rsequeira@schnepsmedia.com or (718) 260-4599. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes

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