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October 12, 2005

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nunzio

Good points. But the evidence that George Ryan evaded paying income taxes is pretty clear cut and simple: Took disbursements from campaign war chest (legal) spent them on non-campaign-related goods and services (legal) but did not report them as personal income on his income taxes (not legal).

Ranjit Hakim

Pr. Alschuler.

Do you think that part of the problem is that federal criminal law is perhaps a compromise that in many ways pleases no one?

In a post-Linbergh's Baby world, people are nervous about leaving police powers entirely to the states. In addition to solving coordination problems and dealing with crimes that really do span state jurisdictional boundaries, one might think that the trial of high-ranking state officials, who might have a number of friends in their own state legal systems, is a particularly good use for federal criminal law. At the same time, out of some desire to be loyal to an idea of a federal government of limited powers, people might be uncomfortable with a full range of federal criminal laws that mirrored state criminal laws in terms of comprehensiveness, e.g. a federal murder statute, a federal rape statute, a federal robbery statute, et cetera (although I imagine such laws must exist if only to provide for criminal prosecution in exclusively federal territories?). The compromise position then is vague federal criminal laws which satisfy to some extent both constituencies, but are perhaps prone to the sorts of abuses you identify in your post.

This blog was a great idea. I look forward to reading on.

Albert Alschuler

Response to Ranjit Hakim: If local corruption is an appropriate federal concern (and I agree that it is), the soundest way to address it would be to make local bribe-taking a federal crime. Congress wouldn't need an "affecting commerce" or a "federal spending" handle. Congress has the authority to guarantee each state a republican form of government, and government by bribery isn't republican.

jeff

He deserves as fair a trial as the six Willis children got!
Yes, it's a misplaced metaphor, but you'll certainly get the thought.

jeff

He deserves as fair a trial as the six Willis children got!
Yes, it's a misplaced metaphor, but you'll certainly get the thought.

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