Pruitt gains endorsement from leader of fight against ‘ObamaCare’

 Kenneth Cuccinelli,
attorney general of the Commonwealth of Virginia, said his battle
against the federal health care legislation, widely termed “ObamaCare,”
is a battle for the meaning of federalism itself. He discussed the
controversial law during a visit to Oklahoma in support of former state
Sen. Scott Pruitt of Broken Arrow, the Republican nominee for attorney

The law passed earlier
this year violates constitutional provisions dividing power between
levels of government, he said. In discussions with reporters, he
contended the individual mandate forcing individuals to purchase health
insurance coverage or face penalties is unprecedented.

He said, “It is beyond
the power of Congress and the federal government to mandate this
activity. … Nothing like this law has even been done in the history of
the United States. It is unprecedented in its scope and impact on the
Constitution and relationship between the federal and state

“Never before has the
government presumed the authority to tell Americans, force them, to buy a
product. The law was passed under the guise of the commerce powers.
It’s a twisting of the federal power for the government to regulate
inactivity as if it were activity.”

Cuccinelli made his
comments in a state Capitol press conference yesterday (Monday, October
25) where he also endorsed former state Sen. Scott Pruitt, the
Republican nominee to replace Attorney General Drew Edmondson. 

Cuccinelli contended, “This is not about health insurance but about
liberty. If the case is lost, it will be the end of federalism as we
have known it.” 

Pruitt told reporters he
would, if elected the state’s top legal officer, join the Virginia or
Florida cases now underway, or consider filing a new lawsuit on the
matter. Cuccinelli explained, “The entire bill is at stake. We’ve asked
the court to enjoin the entire bill. A ruling is expected in Virginia in

Defending the litigation,
the Virginian said the attorneys general of the American states are
“the last line of defense. It’s the AGs who legitimately exercise
authority versus the federal government. In the federalist structure
they are the best line of defense to push back against federal authority
that is excessive. In this case, Scott Pruitt is the most qualified
candidate. The protection of the rule of law is a fight to protect the
opportunity of all of us. Regulations always impair opportunity and
reduce liberty. This litigation is fighting against excessive impairment
and reduction of liberty.”

Cuccinelli said Pruitt
“will be the first line of defense for Oklahoma, and an ally for the
Constitution.” He also asserted, “The issue is bigger than health care.
If the feds have the power to require us to buy a product, where does it

Pruitt is facing Jim Priest, an Oklahoma City attorney, the Democratic party’s hopeful. In his comments, Pruitt reiterated his intention to establish a “federalism unit” in the state attorney general’s office. 

Concerning other possible
actions against federal encroachment, he pointed to recently announced
intentions for the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate dust
produced in farming processes. Pruitt stressed, “Although issues of
federalism are important, there are other matters that a crucial and
those will not be dismissed or ignored.”

Cuccinelli repeated
estimates that implementation of “ObamaCare” in Oklahoma could cost $500
million to implement over seven years. Based on his own office’s
experience, he supported Pruitt’s estimate that costs for involvement in
such litigation would be low: “It is not a trial, there are no
witnesses and there will be no need to take depositions. The issues
involved are not Republican or Democrat.”

Responding to a question
from CapitolBeatOK, Cuccinelli noted Attorney General Edmondson had
“joined our brief on greenhouse gases.” He quipped he had worked with
Edmondson in “a group that has my favorite acronym – NAAG (National
Association of Attorneys General).”

Pruitt, responding to a
question from CapitolBeatOK, said legislative experience is at least as
significant as other kinds of experience as a preparation for the
attorney general’s job. He said, “How do you put a dollar value on
legislative experience? Of course it is important. Having an attorney
general who has actually participated in the process of making laws is

Cuccinelli also
encouraged support for State Question 756 on next week’s general
election ballot in the Sooner State: “You have two governments
contending. The statute on the ballot in eight days is important, as it
represents the dignity of the sovereign, the state of Oklahoma in this

The ballot question
would enact a state constitutional “opt out” provision allowing the
state to step aside from the new federal law and its mandates.

Some of the legal
analysis presented in the press briefing focused on the lack of a
severability clause in the federal legislation, meaning that if anyone
provision in law is found invalid, the entire bill could collapse.
Cuccinelli explained: “The supporters have called the individual mandate
‘the linchpin’ of the legislation. This bill never went to a

Virginia was the first
state to challenge the federal law. The lawsuit is pending before Judge
Henry Hudson, a federal district judge in the Commonwealth. Oklahoma
could, if next week’s measure prevails, be the next state to challenge
the bill. 

In a statement circulated
after the press conference, Cuccinelli declared “Now more than ever we
need attorneys general across this nation, who understand it is the
responsibility of AGs to protect citizens against the overreach of
Washington D.C. policies that have put a choke hold on our economic
vitality and fundamental liberties.”
Pruitt said, “The practical reality is state Medicaid services costs
Oklahomans more than $1 billion annually in taxes,” and “ObamaCare”
would add millions more in costs. 

Pruitt noted that last week Boeing, which employs hundreds in the state,
announced it would cut benefits and increase out-of-pocket expenses for
workers due to the new law’s costs. Concerning the recent moves to
expand federal power into areas traditionally left to markets or to the
states, he concluded, “I assure you from Altus to Woodward to Claremore
it is the number one concern of the Oklahomans I meet as I cross the