“We don’t sue because we don’t like things. That is what elections are for,” Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli told the closing lunch of the Fall 2010 Legal Strategy Forum, “We sue because some things the federal government has done are unconstitutional.” Speaking at The Heritage Foundation Thursday, Cucinelli urged the public interest lawyers in attendance to do all that they can to educate the public about how the federal government’s ever expanding power is antithetical to our nation’s First Principles. “These legal battles have been coming for some time. The hyper aggressive expansion of federal power did not start in the last two years. The problem stretches back into previous administrations,” he said.
While Virginia is also involved with litigation against the Environmental Protection Agency, Cuccinelli spent most of his time addressing Virginia’s suit challenging the federal government’s power to force all Americans to buy health insurance. Cuccinelli reached all they way back to before the nation’s founding to bolster his claim that an individual mandate is beyond the scope of powers the Founding Fathers intended the federal government to have.
In 1774, the First Continental Congress implemented a trade boycott against Great Britain in protest of the Intolerable Acts. When King George III asked if the colonists could boycott British goods, his solicitor general informed him it was beyond the power of the king to mandate that his subjects buy specific goods like tea. “The power of the United States government under the Constitution must be smaller than that of King George,” Cuccinelli said.
Cuccinelli also recounted an admission made by former Solicitor General Walter Dellinger at an earlier panel discussion. Pressed to identify what – if any – boundaries there are to federal government power if courts find the individual mandate Constitutional, Dellinger said the only boundary left would be politics. “Congress could force you to buy cars. Even a specific car, like an Equinox. I have an Equinox. You don’t want one.”
Cuccinelli had one word to describe such an interpretation of federal government power: “radical.”