Va. AG: Obamacare Challenge About Liberty

Thursday, 17 Feb 2011 07:39 AM

By Hiram Reisner

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Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who Wednesday took his argument against Obamacare to Capitol Hill, says senators seemed more concerned about the need for healthcare reform than the constitutionality of the law’s individual mandate that requires the uninsured to obtain health insurance or face a tax penalty.

virginia, ag, obamacare, challenge, liberty“The focus of a lot of members who support the mandate, seems to be … on just reiterating the notion of: Look, we've a real problem in healthcare,” Cuccinelli told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren in an interview later Wednesday.

“There are plenty of things that we can do that would be constitutional and would help reform healthcare. As much as I would bring it back … to the subject of commerce and how far does the Commerce Clause power extend for Congress, [the discussion] would continually wander off with members in other directions,” he said.

Earlier this month, Cuccinelli announced Virginia will seek an immediate U.S. Supreme Court review of the state's constitutional challenge to Obamacare, bypassing the appellate court.

A U.S. District Court judge in Virginia ruled in December that that the healthcare reform bill’s individual mandate requiring Americans to buy healthcare insurance is unconstitutional. The federal government appealed the ruling, saying the Constitution’s Commerce Clause empowered it to order private citizens to purchase insurance from private vendors or pay a penalty to the government.

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear the case in May, though most legal observers note the Virginia decision, and similar rulings on Obamacare’s constitutionality, will end up before the Supreme Court.

Van Susteren noted in the argument on Obamacare’s legality, the Constitution is not just a technicality.

“No, it is not. There are a lot of people including in that room this morning who would like to think it was 18th century art on the wall. It is the foundation of this country,” Cuccinelli said.

“This case is about liberty, not healthcare – healthcare is what the legislation is about,” he continued. “The exercise of power by the federal government to order us to buy something has never been done before. If they can do it in healthcare they can do it for automobiles, broccoli, et cetera.

“That's why it is about liberty, because it would crush the realm of free authority of the states.”

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