Ken Cuccinelli argues in his new book, The Last Line of Defense: The New Fight for American Liberty, that states protect individual liberty against an expansive federal government.
"States, as the founders intended, really do have a role in pushing back" against the federal government, Cuccinelli, Virginia’s attorney general and likely Republican gubernatorial candidate, said in an interview about his book, which was released on Tuesday.
"We’ve never seen an administration so aggressive, with such frequency, trampling the law and the constitution like this," he said, referring to the Obama administration.
He highlighted the Federal Communication Commission’s efforts to regulate the Internet as "the most brazen" example of federal overreach.
The District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the FCC to stop trying to regulate the Internet in 2010 but the FCC voted 3-2 to regulate it anyway, Cuccinelli said.
"Frankly, they should just be found in contempt of court," he said.
"Refusing to honor the ruling of a federal court was one of the most serious threats to our divided form of government and its separation of powers doctrine, and therefore, to our liberty," Cuccinelli writes in his book about the FCC’s decision.
The launching point for his book is the lawsuit Cuccinelli helped lead against the individual health insurance mandate.
Additionally, he writes about overreaches by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement.
Cuccinelli was elected Virginia’s attorney general in 2009 during the "summer of discontent" that marked the birth of the Tea Party, he writes early in the book. He praised the movement for being "first-principles-based" during his interview, but he said the Tea Party will not determine his political fate.
"I’m not tied to them in terms of success or failure," he said. He noted he won three state Senate races from Fairfax County, a liberal suburb of Washington, D.C., that went overwhelmingly for Obama in 2012, before winning his bid to become attorney general, including in 2007, an especially bad year for Republicans nationwide.
He said he has not changed his positions over his 10 years of public service, and he argued that the views his book advocates are representative of "mainstream" Americans. He pointed to a Pew poll, which showed that for the first time, more than half of Americans view the federal government as a threat to their liberty.
His presumptive Democratic opponent in the 2013 Virginia gubernatorial race is Clinton ally and Democratic insider Terry McAuliffe. Cuccinelli characterized McAuliffe as a "Washington insider" and "Virginia outsider."
He hit McAuliffe for his lack of transparency about his positions and said that his opacity will "have to come to an end."
"Brian Moran was correct in 2009 when he said we need a fighter, not a fundraiser," Cuccinelli said, referring to McAuliffe’s opponent in the 2009 Democratic gubernatorial primary.
McAuliffe did not win his party’s nomination, and Republican Bob McDonnell went on to beat Democratic candidate Creigh Deeds by 17 points.