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Friday, June 25, 2010

Limiting "Honest Services" Fraud Sends Message To Congress and Justice Department


On Thursday, the Supreme Court handed down a host of rulings including three cases involving the "honest services" statute.  In its ruling involving Enron executive Jeff Skilling, the court's majority (led by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg) voted to curtail the "honest services" fraud to instances of bribery or kickbacks.   Three judges, led by Antonin Scalia, voted to invalidate the entire statute.  (If interested, the ruling involving former newspaper baron Conrad Black is also available at www.supremecourt.gov/opinions.)
As this New York Times editorial points out, the decisions send a message to the executive branch -- chiefly, the Justice Department but also all the investigative agencies like the FBI, IRS, Homeland Security and so on -- to do "more thorough investigations" and to the legislative branch to enact "sharper laws." 
Crime, Politics and Policy has long criticized various government players for sacrificing the rights of the governed, and particularly of the innocent, in the name of expediency and the convenience of the government.   Any damage suffered by the innocent is condescendingly considered to be acceptable collateral damage that goes with the territory of being an American private citizen. 


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