Outbursts of Protest Disrupt Cuccinelli Speech
A group of vocal protestors welcomed Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli when he spoke for Constitution Day in front of students and faculty in Jepson Science Center on Saturday, Sept. 17.
Will Spaulding, chair of the Legislative Action Committee and organizer of the event, introduced Cuccinelli, stating the purpose of the day was to, “recognize the signing of the U.S. Constitution.”
The majority of people in the room were protestors, leaving Spaulding to occasionally step in to advise attendees to, “keep it civil.”
Before Cuccinelli began to speak, protestors in the halls of Jepson began chanting, “You fail.”
Cuccinelli acknowledged the protestors, saying,“[We] already heard from the first amendment.”
Throughout Cuccinelli’s speech, the protestors trickled into the lecture hall holding posters with slogans such as, “I stand with Planned Parenthood, “Global Warming is For Real” and “Cuccinelli, You Fail.”
However, Cuccinelli spoke through most of the interruptions.
The question-and-answer period of the day was the most heated portion of Cuccinelli’s hour-long appearance.
The questions and statements made to Cuccinelli included cost of the health care appeal, the issue of carbon dioxide gas, abortion and the controversial 2010 letter to Virginia universities requesting they rescind non-discrimination policies towards sexual orientation.
Senior Anna Halbrooks stood up when it was her turn to speak and noted students were looking forward to Cuccinelli coming to the university because they were “itching to share” their issues with his policies.
Halbrooks referenced the letter to Virginia universities and said, “Bigotry will not be tolerated [on our campus].”
The protest organizer, senior Evan McLaughlin, was clear that he and the rest of the student protestors wanted to “take every chance to make as much noise as possible.” The message “You fail” was their attempt to pressure Cuccinelli as much as they could.
Some attendees of the event were not happy with the behavior of the protestors.
Erica Gouse, chairman of the College Republicans, said that she was upset with the actions of some of the students.
“There could have been better ways to get their message across,” Gouse said.
She added that overall she was impressed with Cuccinelli’s discussion of how state funding works and the health care bill.
In his speech, Cuccinelli first discussed the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
He stressed that in order for the division of power between federal and state governments to exist, state government must “push back,” and “create a tension.”
Cuccinelli stated that he believes that the federal government is exercising an “unprecedented excess of power,” especially with health care, and wants to appeal the healthcare mandate, stating that the federal government may not use the Commerce Clause to “order people to buy a product,” which in this case is health care.
He added that the government could easily replace health care with the requirement to purchase “gym memberships,” or “asparagus.”
Cuccinelli went on to discuss how the general assembly sued the Environmental Protection Agency over the endangerment finding of carbon dioxide gas.
“What is critical for me as an attorney general is this particular endangerment in violation of the law,” Cuccinelli said. “They delegated their research authorities through the UN to the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change]…what these folks did was clearly manipulative, clearly left the realm of objective science and that they clearly deleted data that was adverse to the conclusion.”
Cuccinelli ended his speech by stating, “more taxes, more spending, and more regulation,” increase government power.
He also said that, “State attorney generals become the last line of defense [when the federal government crosses the line].”
President Rick Hurley said he was “proud of the way [students] comported themselves” and it was “a good day for the University.”
Dean of Student Life Cedric Rucker also noted that this was “the most visible Constitution Day.”
Spaulding agreed that it was the “most interesting, involved crowd.”
Cuccinelli was unavailable for contact.
Photo by Lukas Pfäffle