Thursday, February 26, 2009

Ken Cuccinelli Thinks Things Through

Understanding the Law of Unintended Consequences

There has been quite a bit of blog debate on the “Triggerman Rule” changes that passed the Virginia State Senate. Senator Ken Cuccinelli (R-37), a Republican candidate for Attorney General, was the lone Republican to vote against these revisions.

Now I was not particularly emotional about this issue, and I really wasn’t going to comment. However, after reading what was being said both for and against Ken Cuccinelli, I felt I had to say something. Yes, I am a supporter of Ken Cuccinelli in the Attorney General race, but I plan to support whoever is the Republican nominee

The best synopsis I have seen comes from the I’m Surrounded by Idiots blog. Ken’s own words speak for themselves:

So you have the information yourself, I have always been a supporter of Virginia’s death penalty law. In the Senate, I have consistently fought against Democrats’ efforts to impose a death penalty moratorium - and I have opposed efforts to allow endless appeals in death penalty cases.

As a State Senator, I have voted to extend the death penalty to people who murder trial witnesses, judges and law enforcement officers. And as your Attorney General, I am committed to upholding the death penalty verdicts of our juries and will work to defend and strengthen our capital punishment law from intrusions and attempts by the left to derail it.

I also have supported and will continue to support the death penalty under the current exceptions to the “triggerman rule” for (1) terrorism (including the beltway sniper case), (2) murder for hire, and (3) criminal enterprises/gangs. However, there have been legislative attempts to completely eliminate the triggerman rule, which I believe would be too broad an expansion. That’s the only expansion of the death penalty that I have ever opposed, while supporting other expansions and always defending our current death penalty statute.
Senator Cuccinelli has been a great supporter of law enforcement and does believe in the use of capital punishment when it is appropriate. However, Ken is also analytical enough to understand when changes in the law can go too far or can be abused. This is not a “liberal” or “conservative” thing, but you can call it “classically liberal” in this case. Ken understands the “Law of Unintended Consequences,” in which the results obtained to not comport well with the intent(s) of the legislation. He also understands how laws have been abused in other countries, and, most importantly, how citizens do have to be protected from potentially unaccountable government.

Doesn’t everyone remember the disastrous abuser fee legislation of 2007? We all quickly saw how unpopular the fines were and how these fees were a poor way to fund road construction. Now, nobody’s perfect, but at least Ken understands from recent law-making experience how the Law of Unintended Consequences can also backfire.

The Republican candidates have enough legitimate issues to discuss, and should be sharing with the voters their vision of how they would be the best Attorney General. This Triggerman Rule issue is one on which thoughtful people can disagree and present legitimate arguments, but, as my friend Chris at Mason Conservative has pointed out, is unproductive as one on which to smear opponents.

FULL DISCLOSURE STATEMENT: I wrote this post without any prompting by the Cuccinelli campaign.