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Cuccinelli: New constitutional 'check' needed on federal government

Rosalind Helderman

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli says he'll be supporting a constitutional amendment to provide a new "check" on the power of the federal government. The idea came up during a live online chat with Washington Post readers Friday afternoon.

A reader asked Cuccinelli whether he supports the repeal of the 17th Amendment, which requires the direct election of U.S. senators by popular vote. Before the 17th Amendment, senators were chosen by state legislatures. Repealing the amendment has become a popular idea among some members of the Tea Party movement, who think that the direct election of senators has deprived states of the power the country's founders intended for them to hold in a federalist system.

In his response, Cuccinelli indicated that he doesn't support repealing the 17th Amendment, but he believes "the 17th Amendment had consequences that were not anticipated."

"I expect to support an effort to create a new constitutional 'check' b/n the states and fed gov, but not a repeal of the 17th amendment. More on that later ... " he continued, somewhat cryptically.

We've asked his spokesman for more details. Meanwhile, we hear that Virginia House Speaker Bill Howell (R-Stafford) was scheduled to speak on a panel at this past week's National Conference of State Legislatures conference in Louisville. The topic: Should the states amend the U.S. Constitution?

Howell's flight was canceled and he didn't make it, but the show went on without him. The panel apparently discussed constitutional changes, including an amendment requiring Congress to adopt a balanced budget.

Another amendment the group proposed would allow the states to nullify any federal law approved by Congress, if a certain number of state legislatures agreed. Is that the constitutional "check" Cuccinelli is referring to? Stay tuned.

In the meantime, read Cuccinelli's full chat here.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  July 30, 2010; 4:21 PM ET
Categories:  Rosalind Helderman  
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I vote to keep Ken Cuccinelli far, far away from the United States Constitution. It doesn't need his kind of meddling.

Posted by: Anglo_Rider | July 30, 2010 6:14 PM | Report abuse

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