Tuesday, October 20, 2009

State Sovereignty

Note to family and friends: Updates on Mr. AOW are being added to this post.

On November 3, Virginians will go to the polls to elect various state officials, including a new state attorney general.

Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican candidate for attorney general of Virginia, has a rather unique vision for the office.

From this article in the October 19, 2009 edition of the Washington Post:
Cuccinelli's bid puts focus on a job often off the radar
Va. attorney general candidate says there's power in the post

Republican Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, a state senator from Fairfax County, hopes to be an entirely different attorney general than what Virginians have grown accustomed to.

...He is ready to sue the federal government if it restricts emissions or expands union powers.

Cuccinelli, 41, says he wants to transform a job most people know virtually nothing about from a steppingstone to the governor's office into a platform for long-term reform. He is prepared not to defend state laws he deems unconstitutional. He plans to scrub the books clean of what he calls burdensome regulations. He would push a constitutional amendment protecting private property rights.

Perhaps the greatest departure is that Cuccinelli has no plans to run for governor in four years, unlike the last seven people elected to the post. If anything, he envisions a long career as Virginia's top lawyer -- and a dramatic, if slow, transformation of government, state regulations and the lives of Virginians.

"This office, for someone who focuses on it day to day for a long period of time, can affect the direction of Virginia government," Cuccinelli said. "It isn't one dramatic step on any given day, or getting one bill passed. It's the gradual, slow, drip-drip-drip impact that you can have." ...
Mr. Cuccinelli offers a specific example of how a state attorney general can have an impact affecting every Virginian:

It is appropriate, he said, for the attorney general to evaluate the constitutionality of state laws; if anything, recent attorneys general with an eye to higher office have avoided this responsibility, he said. In 2007, then-Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell, now the Republican candidate for governor, helped broker a transportation deal in the legislature that he has since taken credit for on the campaign trail. The state Supreme Court eventually struck down part of the law because it gave taxing authority to unelected regional bodies, but McDonnell never offered an opinion that the bill was unconstitutional.

Had he been attorney general, Cuccinelli said, he would have offered such an opinion and then declined to defend the bill when it was challenged in court.
The law was struck down on the basis of no taxation without representation:
...The court ruled that only an elected body has taxing authority...


In its 23-page ruling, the court said last year's transportation bill violated Virginia's constitution because it delegated the legislature's taxing authority to an unelected body. Although most of the authority's members are elected officials, the board itself was not elected by voters.

"The General Assembly has failed to adhere to the mandates of accountability and transparency that the Constitution requires," wrote Justice S. Bernard Goodwyn, a Kaine appointee. "We conclude that the Constitution . . . clearly contemplates that taxes must be imposed only by a majority of the elected representatives of a legislative body."...
The extra taxes paid by Virginians while the law was in force were refunded.

What similarities do BHO's czars have in common with a governing board not elected by voters?

One might also note similarities between the federal bureaucracy and a governing board not elected by the people. Specifically, consider the IRS and the EPA, both of which have clearly impacted my life with little recourse for addressing my grievances. Heh.

In any case, Ken Cuccinelli has offered a new vision for state attorneys general: Stop the creep of governmental bureaucracy via a state office which usually receives little attention and little glory. If he wins on November 3, perhaps attorneys general in other states will follow his lead.

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posted by Always On Watch @ 10/20/2009 06:11:00 AM