VIRGINIA Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is not one to mince words, and he certainly held back nothing earlier this week when he offered the following assessment of President Barack Obama: “This president and his administration, in my view, represent the greatest set of lawbreakers that have run the federal government in our lifetimes. The fact is, President Obama and his appointees have ignored federal laws, they've ignored binding rulings of federal courts and they've ignored the limits on their power mandated by the Constitution.” Cuccinelli's comments came during a joint news conference with the chief legal officers for eight other states under the auspices of the Republican Attorneys General Association.
The purpose of the conference was to release a report prepared by Cuccinelli and the eight other state attorneys general identifying 21 actions taken by Obama that they consider illegal. “What these nine attorneys general have collectively confirmed is that this administration repeatedly shows disdain for states, federal laws it finds inconvenient, the Constitution and the courts,” the report states. Even allowing for the usual partisan excesses of election-year rhetoric, the report highlights a growing resolve among state officials to resist federal encroachment.
The actions spotlighted in the report run the gamut from the notorious (Obamacare's individual mandate) to the obscure (Office of Surface Mining regulations on coal mines). They cover a wide breadth of federal agencies, ranging from the Environmental Protection Agency's failed efforts to pre-empt Florida water standards (which were upheld by a federal court) to the Department of Justice's challenge against Arizona immigration laws.
At every turn, Obama has sought to expand federal power at the expense of the states. Take the National Labor Relations Board, which threatened to sue South Carolina after 83 percent of the state's voters approved a law guaranteeing secret ballots in union elections. While the NLRB eventually backed down, it still told Boeing officials they could not open a new factory in South Carolina since it is a right-to-work state. Only after Boeing agreed to pay off unions at its older facilities in Seattle with new contracts did the NLRB allow the storied aircraft company to open the new South Carolina facility.
This is not what the Founding Fathers intended. “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined,” James Madison wrote in Federalist 45. “Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.” Elections are just one way the Constitution empowers Americans to fight back against a centralizing regime in the nation's capital. State attorneys general have every right — indeed, it is their obligation — to respond forcefully when the federal government breaks the law.
The nine attorneys general issuing this report — Tom Horne of Arizona, Pam Bondi of Florida, Sam Olens of Georgia, Bill Schuette of Michigan, Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma, Marty Jackley of South Dakota, Alan Wilson of South Carolina, Greg Abbott of Texas and Cuccinelli — should be commended for identifying and standing up to Washington power grabs. This is especially so when the man in the White House complains about having “to wait” on the democratic process in Congress.