Being Bad Likely to Become Less Illegal | Bleader

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Being Bad Likely to Become Less Illegal

Posted By on 12.09.09 at 05:01 PM

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You may have noticed a flood of stories along these lines recently:

In a sign of how the issue is already shaking up corruption cases, prosecutors working on the case of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich indicated earlier this week that they planned to re-file their indictment against him, this time with no reference to honest services fraud, because of the chance that the Supreme Court might strike down or narrow the law.

Which is why now's a good time to go back and read Michael Miner's primer on the honest services law:

If children made the laws, everything we do that isn't fair would also be illegal. The problem critics find in a federal law that could easily be called the Chicago doctrine is that it judges human conduct as a child might: behavior a parent would tell a child is bad, or an editorial writer a reader, or a prosecutor a jury, can be punished because—well, because it ought to be.

Or, put anachronistically:

Complimenting the boss’s hat “so the boss will leave the room so that the worker can continue to read The Racing Form,” Justice Breyer said, could amount to a federal crime.

The Racing Form? Justice Breyer added: "Just because the guy's only doing it for some doll doesn't make it illegal."

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