Speaking in Sumter on Thursday night, Alan Wilson promised to save the state from the Blob.
At a meeting of the Sumter TEAvangelical Patriots, South Carolina’s attorney general compared his office’s legal struggles with the Obama administration to the cult classic 1958 film about a menacing alien blob that grows larger and larger and consumes everything and everyone in its path.
“When I was a kid, my dad made us watch a lot of cheesy old horror movies,” Wilson said, referring to his father, Congressman Joe Wilson. “Today, DSS would probably take me away.”
Since being elected the state’s top prosecutor in 2010, Wilson led a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of President Obama’s health care law and has defended state laws on immigration and voter identification from federal challenges from the Justice Department. He’s been at it so long, he thinks of the actor in the lead role of the movie, who ultimately defeats the Blob by freezing it and dropping it into the Arctic Ocean.
“The federal government is like the Blob,” Wilson said. “It devours individual liberties, it devours state independence and sovereignty, and it devours individual responsibility.”
“I see myself like Steve McQueen,” he told the dinnertime crowd, “and I’d like to drop Congress into the Arctic.”
Wilson sees the duty of the attorney general to be the state’s “chief defender of the Constitution,” and has taken an active role in the only office that can sign South Carolina on to a lawsuit. He served on a committee of six state attorneys general that spearheaded a legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act by 26 states, a challenge that ultimately went to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012. The justices ruled 5-4 to uphold the health care law, but Wilson still sees the challenge as a constitutional victory.
“That case played a key role in changing how the Constitution has been seen since the days of FDR,” he said. Defenders of the law’s requirement that every U.S. resident purchase health insurance — the “individual mandate” — argue it is permitted by the Constitution’s commerce clause, which empowers Congress to regulate interstate commerce. But the majority of the court, led by the conservative Chief Justice John Roberts, issued a more narrow ruling that upheld the mandate under the Constitution’s taxing authority, thus supporting critics of the law who called the mandate a new tax.
“The mandate lost, but the law survived, ironically because the Supreme Court agreed with us about Obamacare,” he said.
Despite his battles with the federal government, Wilson said he’s only been reacting to federal overreach, and he would rather focus on crime challenging local communities in South Carolina.
“I’d rather focus on human trafficking, on gangs, on murderers out on bond,” he said.
But he’s already involved in new litigation challenging the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, which Wilson called the financial equivalent of Obamacare. An outcome in that case may have to wait until after 2014, when Wilson said he plans to seek a second term.
“I’m not having a fancy party. I’m just telling people I’m running,” he said. “Now go tell 20 of your friends.”