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Posted at 11:36 AM ET, 02/16/2011

Cuccinelli testifies before Congress on health care lawsuit

By Rosalind S. Helderman
Rosalind S. Helderman

Virginia Attorney Gen. Ken Cuccinelli (R) told members of Congress Wednesday that his lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the federal health care law is "modest."

"Within the boundaries of constitutional text and precedent, we simply seek a determination that, in passing the individual mandate and penalty as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Congress exceeded the powers granted it by the Constitution," Cuccinelli told the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, according to prepared remarks distributed by his office.

Cuccinelli's political opponents would likely dispute that notion, given that Cuccinelli's suit could help bring down President Obama's signature legislative achievement and has landed the controversial Virginia Attorney General in D.C., the star of a GOP-led congressional committee meeting on the issue.

Other speakers at the hearing about the constitutionality of requiring individuals to obtain health insurance, a key provision of the bill, were Georgetown Law professor Randy Barnett, who like Cuccinelli believes the individual mandate is unconstitutional, and Duke University Law School professor Walter Dellinger, who believes the opposite.

Cuccinelli otherwise reviewed the contentions of his suit, in which he argues Congress exceeded its authority to regulate interstate commerce with the individual mandate.

"Faced with these legal obstacles, supporters of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act often make arguments that are not based on the Constitution or on decisions of the Supreme Court, but rather, are nothing more than appeals to address a pressing national problem. The argument is that there is a serious problem that must be fixed, and thus, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act must be constitutional because it is an attempt to solve that problem. In a society based on the rule of law, such an argument cannot be credited," he said, according to the prepared remarks.

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | February 16, 2011; 11:36 AM ET
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli, Rosalind Helderman  
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