Patrick Henry delivered his famous “Give me liberty or give me death” speech on March 23, 1775. He probably could not have foreseen that the 44th President of the United States would sign the health care reform bill, which many feel violates personal liberties — 235 years, to the day, later.
On that anniversary of the famous speech, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, fought for the liberty in which Henry had spent his life defending.
“We filed (lawsuit against the health care law) about a mile from where (Henry) gave that speech and on the same day,” Cuccinelli said.
Lynchburg’s Chamber of Commerce hosted Cuccinelli at a public forum held at Liberty’s Supreme Courtroom on Tuesday, March 30.
Virginia State Senator Steve Newman introduced his former co-worker to an audience of approximately 75 people, most of whom were Lynchburg residents.
“My friend Ken Cuccinelli is an extraordinary, brave patriot,” Newman said. “This man is protecting liberty and freedom.”
Cuccinelli spoke about several issues affecting Virginia including his recent lawsuits against the federal government over the health care reform bill and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Cuccinelli along with attorneys general from Texas and Alabama are suing the EPA against the “greenhouse gas endangerment finding.”
“Most people believe in leaving the earth as clean or cleaner as they found it, myself included,” Cuccinelli said. “I recognize that the greatest forces for cleaning up the planet are free markets and free people.”
A few people said “amen” after the reference to free markets. Cuccinelli then pointed out that the EPA’s regulations would also affect Liberty University.
“How much do you think the EPA likes Liberty?” Cuccinelli said as the audience laughed. “Yeah, that’s what I think, too.”
Fighting against the health care bill has also been at the top of the Attorney General’s list. He says that the new law is a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s commerce clause.
Freshman Meagan Vance interned with the McDonnell, Bolling and Cuccinelli campaigns last fall, and Cuccinelli’s comments helped her better understand the new law.
“His explanation of the lawsuit against the government over the health care bill really stood out, because that’s a huge concern of mine,” Vance said. “I was really glad he could explain the details surrounding it.”
Cuccinelli’s disagreements with the federal government did not start with health care. Days after his Jan. 16, inauguration, the case of Jens Soering landed on his desk.
Soering, the son of a German diplomat, murdered his girlfriend’s parents in Bedford County in 1985. He is serving two life sentences for his crimes.
“(More than) 20 years later an awful lot of people still remember (the incident) like it was yesterday,” Cuccinelli said.
Soering’s double life sentence is now up in the air, according to Cuccinelli.
Former Governor Tim Kaine signed a letter to the Department of Justice four days before he left office authorizing that Soering be transferred to a German prison. If transferred, Soering would serve two years with the possibility of release after that time.
Gov. Bob McDonnell revoked the letter, but the Department of Justice is still deciding what it will do. Cuccinelli, however, knows exactly what he will do.
“If the Federal Government were to show up and fly Soering to Germany, our Department of Corrections will not release him,” Cuccinelli said.
At that point, the national government will only have one option, he said.
“What they are going to have to do to get their double murderer to sue Virginia,” Cuccinelli said. “Fair is fair, because I am suing them.”
Cuccinelli referenced former Republican President Ronald Reagan several times throughout his speech, saying that Reagan believed that it is the duty of the current generation to defend freedom for the next generation.
He also alluded to the founding fathers’ views that government is meant to be limited in power.
“The founding fathers had in mind a nation that would maximize liberty for the citizens,” Cuccinelli said. “The way to do that was to rein in the power of the government.”
His comments about the founding fathers stood out most to Vance, a government major.
“It is reassuring to know that our Attorney General still respects what our founding fathers stood and fought for, because it seems like people have lost sight of that in recent times, which is scary,” Vance said. “It really makes me proud that Virginia elected such a great leader, and I am thankful we have him to protect our liberties and freedoms.”
Contact Melinda Zosh at