Once state legislation is passed, it's usually up to the governor and attorney general to see that the law is implemented.
But in a number of high-profile cases around the country, top state officials are balking at defending laws on gay marriage, immigration and other socially divisive issues — saying the statutes are unconstitutional and should not be enforced.
In Pennsylvania, for example, Attorney General Kathleen Kane (D) says she won't defend the state's ban on same-sex marriage in federal court. In Hawaii, Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) filed court papers calling that state's gay marriage ban unconstitutional.