Thursday, January 8, 2009

Making a federal case

The price of poker in the federal sexual abuse case against U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent has risen. On Wednesday los federales amended the indictment to include additional allegations of sexual abuse and obstruction of justice.

What I want to know, however, is why on earth this case is even in federal court. The acts that the judge is accused of committing were also violations of state law. Why isn't Judge Kent standing trial in state court?

The only federal offenses per the U.S. Constitution are counterfeiting U.S. currency and treason - because both are crimes against the United States. Nowhere in Article I, Section 8 is Congress bestowed with the power to create additional federal crimes. Such a notion flew in the face of the principles of federalism.

Do we really need to prosecute someone in federal court for murder? What Timothy McVeigh did was against the law in Oklahoma. Why is a drug kingpin standing trial in federal court? The last time I checked, possession and distribution of a controlled substance is a crime in Texas.

According to The Champion (published by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers), there were about 165 federal criminal laws at the turn of the 20th century. That number has mushroomed to almost 4,500 today. Most of those crimes are regulatory and public welfare offenses for which the mens rea has been, for the most part, negated.

The 10th Amendment states that the states retain any rights not delegated to the United States in the Constitution. This proliferation of federal criminal legislation is just another example of the way in which the federal government has extended its reach far beyond what the Founding Fathers ever intended.

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