WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, in remarks at a Tea Party rally on the Washington mall, said state attorneys general are the "last line of defense" in protecting the U.S. Constitution from the federal government.
Cuccinelli took particular aim at President Barack Obama's health care law in his speech on Sunday. Tea Party activists gathered in the nation's capital for a march and rally to show momentum for their cause leading up to the November elections.
"If the federal government can order you to buy Nancy-approved health insurance, they can order you to buy anything," he told the crowd.
In his remarks, Cuccinelli said King George III and the British respected the liberties of colonists more than Democrats now respect the rights of citizens.
"States no longer matter. That's one of the goals of this administration," he said.
The attorney general admitted he'd rather not be fighting his own federal government, but said he must "restore the founders' vision."
Cuccinelli vowed to use his office and the courts to beat back the federal government, notably through his lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the health care law.
In July, a federal judge declined to dismiss that suit. Cuccinelli and lawyers for the Obama administration are submitting new legal briefs on the issue. Judge Henry E. Hudson will hear oral arguments on both sides' motions for summary judgment Oct. 18.
Cuccinelli did not join in a federal lawsuit filed by 13 state attorneys general after Obama signed the reform legislation into law, but instead elected to file a suit of his own. He says Virginia law prevents the federal government from being able to require Virginians purchase health insurance.
The National Federation of Independent Business, which describes itself as the voice for small business owners, and seven other states added their names to a lawsuit challenging the federal health care reform in May. Those seven states include Indiana, North Dakota, Mississippi, Nevada, Arizona, Georgia and Alaska.
Of the seven new states, only three joined through their attorney general's office. Indiana's Greg Zoeller, Alaska's Dan Sullivan and North Dakota's Wayne Stenehjem are those attorneys general. The other four joined through their governor's office.
The original suit was filed in March after Obama signed the reform into law. The original state plaintiffs are Florida, South Carolina, Nebraska, Texas, Utah, Louisiana, Alabama, Michigan, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Washington and South Dakota.
The lawsuit claims it is unconstitutional to require an individual to pay a yearly penalty if he or she does not purchase health insurance.
Beginning in 2014, individuals who flout the mandate face an annual penalty of $695, while employers could face penalties of $2,000 per worker for not offering affordable health coverage.
Oral arguments were held in the health care challenge on Tuesday.
From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by e-mail at email@example.com.