What are the Limits of Politics in America?

Yesterday I wrote an essay titled The Supreme Court’s Opinion in “Bridgegate” is Not Novel.  The Supreme Court simply applied statutory law governing an appeal by two political actors in the State of New Jersey.  My essay fully explains defendant’s actions together with the reasoning of the Court to find defendants not guilty.  I explained why that opinion was correctly reached by the Court; indeed unanimously.  The opinion bore witness to the wrong-doing of the defendants – deception, corruption, abuse of power, but the law does not criminalize all such conduct unless the object is to gain money or property.  The law explicitly requires money or property to be obtained as the object of a criminal action.  No money/property, no crime.  Justice Kagan, who wrote the opinion referred to the plot of the story as a “prank.”  

What is the purpose that such a law should exist?  It exists so that a “prank” can be played by prosecutors to file unwinnable criminal cases in federal courts.  Their purpose is to put the other party’s political actors in bad public light.  As is usual in such examples, there is egregious conduct by each of the prosecutor and defendant.  Who are these prosecutors in this tit-and-tat charade?  They are the US Attorney of each state.  They are appointed by the President and require Senate confirmation.  Each Attorney is an officer of the federal government.  He or she have substantial latitude for their actions in carrying out their responsibilities, such as subpoena power, convening grand juries, obtaining indictments, taking testimony under oath and prosecuting in the federal courts. They serve at the pleasure of the President, usually only of the President that appointed them.  By custom, each appointed person gives their signed, undated resignations at the time of appointment.  This facilitates changes shortly after inauguration of a new President.

 After being a US Attorney, a dreadfully large number of them become members of Congress.  You can tell them from others members of Congress by their thuggish questioning of witnesses in Congressional hearings and investigations.  Another of their often-played tactics are to obtain indictments — it is famously said of grand jury indictments that a prosecutor could obtain one for a ham sandwich – and then use “plea bargaining” in order to obtain a conviction on something that could probably not be obtained otherwise.  It is odious, thwarts justice, gives the defendant a criminal record, and occurs in more than ninety percent of all criminal prosecutions.  “Bridgegate” did not involve a plea bargain, as the case did not end up with the risk of a jury reaching a truly bad conviction. The Supreme Court was the “jury” and acquitted unanimously. Colleagues of the prosecutor suggested to him from the beginning he was inventing a crime, it was futile.  The case took seven years to conclude. 

The sum-up is the worst possible ending.  It seems likely to me the federal laws applicable to prosecuting these corruption cases in states are unconstitutional.  The federal government has no police powers to bring such cases within states.  Nothing in the Constitution countenances criminal prosecution of political corruption in a state, by state political actors.  This is another example of mail fraud or wire fraud reaching anything that remotely involves the Postal Service or telephones in carrying out the fraud.  Acceptance of federal funds by educational institutions is another way of reaching beyond federal jurisdiction to control almost any outcome desired by Congress. 

Publiustoo.com                                                                                                          May 15, 2020