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Cuccinelli tells reporters Virginia's "sovereign interest" violated by health care law

Rosalind Helderman

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) defended his suit against the federal health care law in a call with reporters this evening, a call designed to accompany today's filing in the case. Over the course of the call, he walked through the legal arguments of his brief, arguing Virginia has standing to sue and that the constitution's commerce clause does not give the Congress the ability to mandate that individuals buy health insurance.

"A lot of people who think we're going to lose the case essentially boil down their expectation to, 'well, the federal government always wins these things.' And that's not necessarily true," Cuccinelli said, citing two major cases over the last 15 years in which the Supreme Court has set limits on the power of Congress under the Commerce clause.

Of all the controversial items on Cuccinelli's agenda, he has said his most important initiative is this lawsuit. It also happens to be the issue that tends to get him the most hearty support from the public--though certainly not a few detractors as well.

Maybe all those reasons explain why he has seemed so particularly eager to discuss his position on this case. Along with this evening's call, his office also put out a a press release that walked through the case's legal issues in an unusual depth for such documents. In a grid, the release shows each of the federal governments six arguments for dismissal, along with Cuccinelli's response for each.

The call continued for close to 25 minutes. Cuccinelli discussed why his suit is ripe now, even though the mandate doesn't go into effect until 2014, why he believes the constitution's "necessary and proper" clause does not give Congress constitutional authority for the law, why the fine citizens will face if they do not buy insurance should be considered a penalty and not a tax and why that would matter legally. He also explained why his suit should be heard seperately from a 20 state suit against the law filed in Florida but why the cases will likely be heard together at the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Virginia has a sovereign interest which has been infringed and we therefore have standing in this case," he said.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  June 7, 2010; 7:29 PM ET
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli , Rosalind Helderman  
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