Ken Cuccinelli, Attorney-General for the State of Virginia, makes a cogent point in his interview with regarding the Commerce Clause of our federal constitution: Would the newly freed citizens of the 13 States have given the federal Congress and president more power to regulate their commercial activity in the Constitution of 1787 than the Crown and Parliament of Great Britain exercised over them when they were colonists? The answer of course is No. To quote Cuccinelli, ‘Otherwise, why rebel?’

He then goes on to explain how this relates to mandates to purchase health care under the federal health care law enacted earlier this year. Here are the relevant paragraphs from the story:

“When you have a case that’s unprecedented like this,” Cuccinelli said, referring to Virginia’s suit against Obamacare, “you literally span the length and breadth of American history in discussing the meaning of the particular power at issue. And if you go back before 1776, just two years, to 1774, go to the First Continental Congress, delegates from all 13 colonies showed up, signed a document where they ‘cheerfully acknowledged’–their phrase—‘cheerfully acknowledged’ the right of the Parliament and the king to regulate their commerce and, in the same document, they boycotted British goods.”

“Go across the Atlantic and King George III and the Parliament aren’t happy about this because their merchants are taking a beating on it, just taking a beating,” said Cuccinelli. “So, of course, they call their lawyer, what everybody does–then, as now, the solicitor general–and they had a conversation and determined that, in fact, the colonists were within their legal rights and that they couldn’t compel them to buy British goods.

“Now, go forward 236 years and you see where I’m going,” said Cuccinelli. “We now have a Congress and a president who believe they can order you to buy a product when King George III and the Parliament of Great Britain, whom we rebelled against, acknowledged that they could not.”

Cuccinelli concluded that it is not possible to believe the Founding Fathers of this country invested the new federal government they created after the American Revolution with a power they had rightfully refused to grant to the British Parliament and king before the revolution.

“Now, Americans endlessly debate the meaning of each part of the Constitution,” said Cuccinelli. “But one thing that every American should be able to agree on, if you think in terms of Venn Diagrams–I was an engineer before I was a lawyer, so I do things like this–the circle of power that represents federal power under the Constitution must be entirely within the circle of power exercised by King George III and the Parliament of Great Britain. Otherwise, why rebel? And, yet, here we have a Congress and a president who are exercising power that even Parliament and King George III acknowledged they did not have.”


Walt Garlington
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