Monday, March 21, 2011

Attorney General Cuccinelli on testifying before congress – Part Two

Cuccinelli analogy switch from broccoli to asparagus

Cuccinelli said, “it was fun.” He was pleased at the reception he received. Bob Goodlate, 6th district Republican congressman introduced Cuccinelli. Other Virginia congressman included Bobby Scott and Randy Forbes – both Democrats.

“All the partisan stuff goes away when you are there talking about some substantive issues,” said Cuccinelli. He backtracked a bit. It does tend to seep in during repetitive questioning.

Cuccinelli’s recounting of his testimony said that Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) asked him if the states can do it [mandate] why can’t the Federal Government do it? Why is liberty at stake? “[The question] was kind of unique among the questions I got from the Democrats,” he said. His response was that the constitution was set up to limit the federal government not the other way around.

Nadler in a press release and on his website said: “What, after all, is the grave individual liberty right at stake that warrants doomsday predictions about the end of all liberties? Critics of the law speak of a broad right to be free from government regulation of ‘inactivity.’ They dwell upon hypothetical after hypothetical – the forced eating of leafy greens or mandatory exercise – but they decidedly avoid talking about is what is truly at issue here – which is simply a requirement that each of us takes steps to ensure that we are able to pay for the health care that we inevitably will need.”

Another unique question came from Debbie Wasserman Shultz Democrat from Florida. Cuccinelli said, “She was grilling me at least from her perspective.” She tried to work the word “activity” into one of her questions. First she asked him if he thought $1000 was a lot of money to which he replied “yes.” Then according to Cuccinelli she asked what would you do with a $1000 a year. He chuckled saying he replied with an unnerving smile, “I’d donate to a Republican running for governor.” He recounted that all the Democrats around her were “falling out of their chairs laughing.”

It’s not a court but it was sufficiently informal Cuccinelli concluded. He said he meant no disrespect to Wasserman by his comedic response. “I’m half Italian but I’m half Irish – I like the tangle,” Cuccinelli said.

Leafy Greens: It went on for two hours and the Democrats were universal in the notion the insurance mandate in the Affordable Healthcare Act is constitutional. He and Walter Dellinger, chairman of the appellate practice at O’Melveny & Myers had a wager on how many times “broccoli” would be cited. To foil those waiting for “broccoli” Cuccinelli switched to the analogy of forcing Americans to buy “asparagus.”

The health care insurance mandate can be summed up by asking “is this a state power or a federal power that’s what it really boils down to what we’re debating,” said Cuccinelli. The bottom line for him is that he is not disputing that states have the constitutional right to require citizens to buy health insurance. It is that the federal government does not have this power.

The Department of Justice filed a brief arguing that the health care mandate lawsuit should not be allowed a fast track to the Supreme Court of the United States. The Commonwealth has until Thursday, March 24 to file a reply brief according to Cuccinelli. “We’ll hustle to try to do that,” he said.

SCOTUS complicates things because of the 19th Century printing requirements. You can’t just run it through MS Word – it has to be printed in “some kind of calligraphy that doesn’t exist on computers anywhere,” he explained.

Cuccinelli claims the DOJ knowingly makes a number of misstatements in their briefs defining the meaning of the Commerce Clause. “To win they really need the world to be as they wish it to be and not as it is,” he said. He joked that their biggest impediments are the dictionary and the meaning of “mental activity.” The Commerce Clause is interpreted to mean “economic activity” or “physical activity” across state lines.

“If our mental activity – our decision not to do something is regulatable by congress … that’s incredible,” he said. But there are judges out there ready to grab from that incredible power.


The softer side of Attorney General Cuccinelli – Part Three

A chat with Attorney General Cuccinelli at his Roanoke office – Part One

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: National, Politics, State Politics

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