Virginia AG: If Obama's Mandate Stands, the Gov't ‘Can Order You To Do Anything’

March 19, 2012 - 4:14 PM
Ken Cuccinelli

Then-state Sen. Ken Cuccinelli addressing the Virginia State Republican Convention in May 2009, where he was nominated for state attorney general. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

(CNSNews.com) “If the government can just order you to buy something, and fine you if you don’t” – the way the individual mandate of Obamacare requires every American to buy government-approved health insurance and fines them if they don’t comply – “they can order you to do anything,” Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said during an appearance on C-SPAN’s “Newsmaker” on Sunday.

Cuccinelli, the first attorney general to file a lawsuit challenging Obamacare, said out of 16 judges that have heard the lawsuit so far, only one has ruled that the fine amounts to a tax.

“Of 16 judges, one found it to be a tax. Unfortunately for Virginia, he sits in the 4th Circuit and he’ll be there for a long time. But, this is a truly radical position, because if the government can just order you to buy something, and fine you if you don’t, and because they can fine you, that comes under the taxing power and therefore makes it constitutional, they can order you to do anything,” Cuccinelli said.

“There has never been a case like this ever before in the over 200 years since the Constitution was passed. The federal government has never compelled people to buy a product under the guise of regulating commerce,” he said.

“The centerpiece constitutional issue is the individual mandate – the requirement in the health care bill that every American buy government-approved health insurance, and this is done under the Commerce Clause. It is commonly talked about as the 10th Amendment – it is not a 10th Amendment case,” Cuccinelli said.

The question at hand, he said, is whether Congress’ power to regulate interstate commerce allows them “compel you to buy health insurance.”

“And our side obviously says, No. The federal government says, ‘Yes.’ And there has never been a case like this ever before in the over 200 years since the Constitution was passed. The federal government has never compelled people to buy a product under the guise of regulating commerce,” Cuccinnell added.

He said when they filed their case against Obamacare on March 23, 2010, “it was all about the Commerce clause,” and the critics predicted that the federal government would win, “but as we just kept making our case – and ‘we’ here is all of the states that address the limited government side of this that said this is too much power for the federal government. As we just kept making the case, kept making the case, gradually, it became clear the other side began to get worried that they could lose.”

“They started out saying, ‘This is a slam dunk. We’ll never lose, etcetera.’ And of course, we won in the district court, and so about a month later in April of 2010 if you read the accounts, you’ll start to see this tax argument arise. And what it is is that the fine you have to pay, if you do not buy the mandated health insurance, which is called a penalty in the bill, is in fact a tax,” he said.

“And that’s important because Congress has very broad taxing power, and my prediction in the outset of this is case is that no judge or justice anywhere in America would agree with that argument, and so far I’ve been wrong by one” – the judge in the 4th Circuit Court in Virginia, who ruled in favor of Obamacare, Cuccinelli said.