Virginia AG argues for health care repeal on Hill

Wednesday - 2/16/2011, 4:40pm EST

Hank Silverberg, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - Virginia's attorney general took his fight against the federal health care law to Capitol Hill Wednesday, stepping onto a national stage before the House Judiciary Committee.

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli made his pitch for why Congress should do what he has been trying to do in the courts -- overturn the federal health care law. He told them, as he has argued in court, that the law is unconstitutional.

"The litigation is not so much about health care as it is about liberty," Cuccinelli said.

Virginia's court challenge revolves around the mandatory purchase of insurance required by the law. Cuccinelli says such mandates could be extended to other things, even a mandate "requiring everyone to purchase broccoli."

"The states that are assaulting the individual mandate in court are doing just what the founders expected us to do, and that is to check federal power when they overstep the boundaries of the constitution," Cuccinelli said.

But another member of the panel testifying before the committee disagrees. Duke University law professor Walter Dellinger sat next to Cuccinelli and called the attorney general's argument flawed.

"It's actually no more intrusive than Medicare or Social Security," Dellinger said, referring to the health care bill.

He held up a copy of the local Yellow Pages.

"I brought the Yellow Pages because if you want me to spend the next three days I can read every product that the Congress would not have the power to require you to purchase," Dellinger said.

Cuccinelli is waiting to see if his challenge to the law will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. The House also has been debating a repeal of the law, although the Senate is not likely to go along with that attempt.

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