Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli was the guest speaker at the Alexandria Kiwanis Club luncheon April 8 and used the occasion to speak at length about the states controversial suit against the federal governments recently signed health care legislation.
Held at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Old Town, Cuccinelli spoke about various issues facing the state, including the latest decision by President Barack Obama to lift certain moratoriums on offshore drilling including areas off the coast of Virginia.
But the focus of Cuccinellis visit centered around his lawsuit regarding national health care reform. At issue is the stipulation that requires individuals to purchase health insurance or face a penalty.
Our focus is not the policies that are included in that bill, Cuccinelli told the crowd that included former Alexandria chief of police David Baker and City Councilman Frank Fannon. Policies are what elections are for. My job is the protection of the Constitution and the laws of Virginia and that is the narrow focus of what we are doing in our lawsuit against the federal government.
Cuccinelli filed suit in U.S. District Court within minutes of Obama signing the historic legislation at the Alexandria campus of Northern Virginia Community College on March 23.
Virginia was the first state to pass a law on a bipartisan basis protecting Virginia citizens from being mandated to purchase health insurance, Cuccinelli said. No one here. under Virginia law, can be ordered by anyone to purchase health insurance. Period.
The Health Care Freedom Act that was passed in Virginia on March 4 was followed two weeks later by Obamas signing of the federal legislation, a key provision of which is the mandate compelling individuals to buy health insurance.
Obviously, those two laws are in conflict, Cuccinelli said.
In the suit, Cuccinelli argues that Congress authority to regulate interstate commerce falls short of mandating health insurance and that the individual mandate in particular is unprecedented.
What is unprecedented in the federal health care bill is that they [Congress] have never before under the guise of regulating commerce compelled you, as an individual citizen, to engage in commerce, Cuccinelli said. They are mandating that you go buy something and that has never, ever happened before.
Cuccinelli issued a caution about the heated debate surrounding the pending litigation.
The people you should not listen to are the ones that say we dont have a prayer or its a slam dunk, Cuccinelli said. This is not a clear cut outcome and anybody who tells you that it is is exactly the type of person you ought not listen to for reasonable discussion on the subject.
Nineteen additional states have filed suit against the federal government arguing the unconstitutionality of the legislation while Alexandria Del. David Englin (D-45) has initiated an internet-based campaign to halt the Virginia suit.