Va. AG criticizes overreach of federal government in book

RICHMOND, Va. (Legal Newsline) -- Virginia Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli takes on the federal government in his book, "The Last Line of Defense: The New Fight for American Liberty."

According to Random House, the book provides a "behind-the-scenes account of the myriad of legal battles in which our states were the only instruments of resistance to federal abuses of power."

The publisher describes the attorney general's book as "a must-read for every patriot."

In particular, Cuccinelli spends a considerable portion of the book on President Barack Obama's health care law.

The conservative attorney general, just months after taking office in January 2010, filed his own lawsuit against Obamacare. He was the very first to sue over the reform.

The law's mandate requires individuals who do not purchase health insurance to pay a yearly $695 penalty. Cuccinelli, in his suit, argued that the mandate clashed with the Virginia Health Care Freedom Act, which says Virginians are not required to purchase health insurance.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit eventually ruled that Cuccinelli did not have standing to challenge the law on behalf of the state of Virginia because the State wouldn't be affected by the mandate. Only individual Virginians would be, the court said in overturning a district judge's ruling.

In its highly-anticipated ruling in June, the U.S. Supreme Court said the controversial provision is a constitutional tax.

Virginia's top lawyer told PBS' Judy Woodruff that the only reason the law is still standing is because Chief Justice John Roberts read the taxing power "incredibly expansively" and upheld the law with four other votes.

In return, he argues Roberts may have done irreparable harm to the independence of the nation's highest court.

"I think that -- I suspect -- and I'm speculating here and not applying motives -- I think he was very concerned about the view of America of the Supreme Court," he said in the interview, which aired Tuesday.

Cuccinelli also touches on the topic of global warming in his book.

He told Woodruff he has "serious concerns" about how it's being addressed by the federal government.

"The proposed reactions -- and, by that, I mean government policies -- are phenomenally expensive. They're phenomenally restrictive of opportunities in the economy. They make poor people poorer. And if you go down to Southwest Virginia with me, you will find one industry, the coal industry," he said.

"It's Appalachia. It's probably the poorest part of America. This administration is attacking that industry and that region of Virginia. Those are the poorest people in Virginia. And when you have this kind of incredible cost -- and there are times when huge regulatory costs properly should be absorbed, but we need to be sure before we do that, because these have crushing effects in real people's lives."

He continued, "They're not rich people. They're poor people. Poor people are hurt first and worst by this sort of regulatory onslaught. And those are the people I'm fighting for."

Mark Fitzgibbons of American Thinker called Cuccinelli's book a "must read" for conservatives, Tea Partiers, libertarians, students of government, students of law and "anyone who cares about the future of America."

"Even Democrats will learn that Cuccinelli's brand of conservatism is grounded in the most basic, thoughtful and positive American principles, their demagoguery notwithstanding. In fact, every voter and candidate for office would do well to read it. It is the present and the future based on timeless principles," Fitzgibbons wrote in a review of "The Last Line of Defense."

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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