The healthcare reform bill’s mandate requiring Americans to purchase health insurance is an attempt to “regulate inactivity” that is taking the country into “constitutional never-never land,” Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli tells Newsmax.
Cuccinelli has garnered headlines by legally challenging Obama administration policies, taking action against the healthcare reform bill and the federal government’s suit challenging Arizona’s new immigration law.
In an exclusive interview, Cuccinelli tells Newsmax’s Chief Washington Correspondent Ronald Kessler it is “very shocking” that the federal government took action against the Arizona law in light of its inactivity in most immigration matters.
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And he says President Obama’s tactic of blaming his predecessor George W. Bush for the country’s ills “smacks of desperation” as his popularity plummets.
On March 23, Cuccinelli filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court challenging the constitutionality of the federal healthcare bill, claiming it exceeded the federal government’s power under the Constitution. On August 2, a judge ruled that the case can go forward and a hearing is scheduled for October.
Discussing the suit, Cuccinelli says: “First of all, as the judge noted last week, even if ultimately this law is found constitutional it goes further than anything ever has that’s been found constitutional under the Commerce Clause, and the absolutely unique feature of this is that the Congress and the president are trying to regulate inactivity – doing nothing.
“Even the king and the parliament acknowledged they didn’t have this power back before the Declaration of Independence.
“We have singled out the individual mandate [requiring the purchase of insurance] for two basic reasons. First, Virginia’s General Assembly passed its own bill last year, called the Virginia Healthcare Freedom Act. That bill protects Virginians from being ordered into an individual mandate. Then, of course, the federal healthcare bill was passed a couple of weeks later in direct conflict with the Virginia law.
“So one of the reasons we’ve singled out the individual mandate is that I’m protecting a Virginia statute, which is part of my oath of office. But first I’m protecting the U.S. Constitution because the overreach attempting to regulate inactivity goes beyond the outer limits of the Constitution.
“We’re definitely out in constitutional never-never land. Defending the Virginia statute and the clear violation in our mind of the individual mandate itself are why we are focusing our attack there.”
On July 14, Cuccinelli joined eight other states in filing a brief opposing the federal government’s lawsuit challenging Arizona’s immigration law. U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton struck down several provisions of the law.
Kessler asked Cuccinelli for his views on the case.
“The most shocking thing about that case is that the federal government felt the need to step in and attack a state in court,” Cuccinelli responds.
“The way the federal government fails in the immigration arena is by doing nothing. They own the responsibility for determining who is illegal and for deporting. They are the bottleneck for deportation and if they didn’t like what Arizona was doing, they had it in their power to simply do what they have been doing for decades, and that’s drag their feet.
“Why they felt the need to come in and attack the state’s law in the manner they did is really very shocking. In an era when we’re already concerned about the overreach of federal power, this is an extremely aggressive step by the federal government – very disappointing and one more disappointment in a string of exercises of federal power. I think that Judge Bolton’s ruling obviously is preliminary, so we’re awaiting a more permanent ruling.”
Kessler asks: “Speaking of government overreaching, clearly the country is turning against Obama. How much of that do you think is because of his policies and how much is because of his leadership and style, blaming Bush for everything, etc.?”
Cuccinelli responds: “That sort of smacks of desperation more than anything.
“I would say that President Obama is one of the best campaigners we have ever seen. Governing is a whole lot more” and “requires getting down to the details, and those policies that they have actually pursued are so distasteful to the American people, sort of at a gut level, that they have lost popularity and I think that’s perfectly legitimate.
“It’s unfortunate that they weren’t pressed harder to lay out specifics of what they intended to do during the campaign. But a good chunk of the press was actively attempting to get him elected. They were engaged in campaigning within their news outlets on behalf of now President Obama and that helped avoid that kind of scrutiny.
“Well, now we have real policies and we can judge performance on those policies and it is a very bad grade coming from the American people. I tend to concur.”
Concerning a federal judge’s ruling overturning California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, Cuccinelli observes: “Certainly the judge appears to have started with a conclusion and thought, well, what’s the best way to protect the ruling I’m going to make.
“Let’s face it, the people of California didn’t even adopt his position.
Virginia, like California, has a marriage amendment and we will certainly take whatever steps we need to defend Virginia’s marriage amendment so that we can continue to treat marriage with the respect and dignity under our law that it currently has.
“We’ll have to see how that plays out, but I have a feeling that this is probably going to go to the Supreme Court.”
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