By Jacob Sullum
Virginia's Republican attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, was in federal court yesterday to make the constitutional case against the new law requiring all Americans to obtain government-approved health insurance. Afterward, The Daily Caller reports, he drew an unfavorable comparison between President Obama and King George III:
Cuccinelli said Monday that at no other time in American history had a government forced citizens to purchase a product and gotten away with it, even the British King that sparked the American Revolution....
In 1774, the American colonists signed onto a document that notified King George III that Americans would boycott British goods until the so-called "Intolerable Acts" were lifted. Speaking like a history professor, Cuccinelli told the story of how American colonists boycotted British products in response to the Acts more than 200 years ago.
"The King's own lawyer, his solicitor general, advised him that the boycott was legal under British law and that Americans could not be forced to buy British goods," Cuccinelli said. "Yet in 2010 we have a Congress and a president that have enacted a law that compels Americans for the first time in history under the guise of regulating commerce, that they must buy a private product even when the King of England and the parliament that we rebelled against acknowledged that they should not have the authority to compel us to do that when we were their subjects."
This may be a risky rhetorical gambit for the Republicans, since the last president they supplied not only was prone to extravagant claims of executive power but had the name to match.
My column tomorrow will consider Cuccinelli's more substantive arguments against the individual health insurance mandate.