Call it a race to right. Virginia’s Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is running for governor of the state and seems to be keen to take every far-right position that he can in preparation. On Wednesday, it was revealed that Cuccinelli wanted the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold the constitutionality of Virginia’s recently struck down sodomy law, which states that anal and oral sex between two people is illegal.
Such laws were ruled unconstitutional in the 2003 Supreme Court Case Lawrence v. Texas. To be fair to Cuccinelli, part of the reason he wants the law to be upheld is to convict William Scott MacDonald. In 2005 MacDonald, then 47, was convicted under the law for attempting to solicit sex from a 17-year-old girl. However it was recently revealed that in 2004, Cuccinelli opposed a bipartisan bill that would have amended the law to comply with Lawernce v. Texas and still be applicable in the MacDonald case. The measure was defeated. Cuccinelli's actions should come at no surprise to those who have followed Cuccinelli's career, as there have been many right-wing positions that he has not been afraid to take.
When it comes to homophobic action and words, Cuccinelli is no stranger. In 2009 when commenting on his opposition to a nondiscrimination policy against gays and lesbians by former attorney general Bob McDonnell, Cuccinelli said, "My view is that homosexual acts, not homosexuality, but homosexual acts are wrong. They’re intrinsically wrong."
Cuccinelli is not above using his public office to push or show that he is pushing his right-wing credentials. In 2010 he issued a lawsuit challenging that a prominent climatologist's work on global climate change was marred with fraud. In 2010 he sent a letter to Virginia’s public colleges and universities stating that they had no legal authority to issue nondiscrimination policies on the basic of sexual orientation. In January he said that people who were opposed to the contraception mandate should "go to jail" to fight it. But when it comes to church teachings on the poor, Cuccinelli, a Roman Catholic, said that bishops have "helped create a culture of dependency on government, not God."
Cuccinelli's positions have gotten to the point where Democrats have urged people to buy and read his book, "The Last Line of Defense: The New Light for American Liberty." Highlights of the book include its conclusion, where he compares the concept of liberty to a pie:
"The liberty pie never changes size. It never grows or shrinks, and it has only two slices: government power and citizen’s liberty. What changes are the size of the slices.
Every single thing government does to increase its own power increases the size of its slice of the liberty piece. Since there are only two slices, every time the government's slice of the liberty pie grows, the citizens' slice is reduced."
Cuccinelli is not in a red state, where being as conservative as possible is the dominant strategy. Virginia is a purple state that went for Obama in 2008 and 2012 but sports a Republican governor and legislature. Its Congressional delegation has nine Republicans and three Democrats in the House along with two Democratic senators in the Senate.
To be fair, Cuccinelli has moderated some of his rhetoric as the governor’s election approaches. On Monday he announced opposition to Virginia’s mandatory abortion ultrasound law. He recently eliminated the section on immigration from his campaign website, which were quickly becoming out of alignment with the GOP’s shifting stance.
Do not mistake this for a permanent run to the center, however. In January he also stated that Justice Scalia is not conservative enough. Time will tell if Cuccinelli’s highly conservative stances will help or hurt him in his quest for higher office.