As creeks go, Accotink in Fairfax County is small and insignificant, other than serving up the occasional trout for happy fly fishermen. It runs about 25 miles before flowing into the 493-acre Lake Accotink, popular with blue herons and paddleboaters.
But to hear some bloggers talk about it, you would think Accotink was a legal turning point on the level of the Brown v. Board of Education.
Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli scored a victory by opposing an attempt by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to classify storm water in the creek as a pollutant requiring expensive control. Judge Liam O’Grady ruled that the EPA can regulate pollutants in the creek’s water but cannot consider the water itself a pollutant.
When EPA announced that it would not challenge the judge’s decision, Cuccinelli, who is running for governor, crowed that he had just saved taxpayers $300 million.
Conservative bloggers went even further. Jim Bacon of Bacon’s Rebellion, where I blog, got downright gushy: “Chalk up another victory for Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli in his ongoing campaign against federal overreach.”
I hate to point this out to my friendly co-bloggers, but Cuccinelli’s courtroom record is, well, spotty at best.
He lost two of his marquee cases. He famously sued over Obamacare in 2010, claiming that it violated the commerce clause of the Constitution by mandating that citizens buy health insurance. His arguments were shot down by the U.S. Court of Appeals Fourth Circuit. In an unrelated event, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last summer that most of Obamacare was in fact constitutional.
Another fight involved the civil investigative demands (CIDs) that Cuccinelli filed to get hundreds of e-mails written by climatologists around the globe. Cuccinelli did so because he does not agree with former University of Virginia climatologist Michael Mann’s view that human beings are responsible for climate change.
The attorney general wanted to see if Mann was wasting taxpayers’ money. If anything, it turned that Cuccinelli was the one who did that; his legal demands for e-mails got nowhere.
Cuccinelli and co-author Brian J. Gottstein paint themselves with glory in their recent book “The Last Line of Defense,” as they attempt to show that Obama and fellow Democrats have launched an assault on federalism and the freedom of every U.S. citizen.
But when one gets down to the actual legal accomplishments of Cuccinelli, we are left with Accotink Creek.