The over-federalization of criminal law in America

posted at 3:31 pm on April 6, 2014 by Jazz Shaw

One popular topic among conservatives – and a frequent bone of contention when debating liberals on the subject – is the issue of states’ rights vs the federal government. We tend to hone in on specific cases as they crop up in a sort of whack-a-mole fashion, but Rodrigo Sermeño has an excellent essay this weekend at PJ Media on the larger, overarching reality of this problem. There are simply too many federal laws on the books, with an average of more than fifty new ones being added each year, and most of them usurp legal issues already being handled by the states. This, as the author notes, leads to a variety of problems which are already metastasizing and coming back to bite us.

Criminal law experts warned a House panel late last week about the dangers of over-federalization in the nation’s criminal law system.

The House Judiciary Committee’s Over-Criminalization Task Force held its second hearing of 2014, where members of Congress discussed the federal criminal code’s astonishing rate of growth.

Today, there are more than 4,500 crimes in federal statutes, according to a study by Louisiana State University law professor John S. Baker…

“Today there’s a continuing crisis in the overlap of federal and state law, particularly in the areas previously covered only by state law,” James Strazzella, professor of law at Temple University, told the panel. “With the growth of federal law demonstratively covering more and more traditionally state-crime areas, a mounting and duplicating patchwork of crimes has grown up in the last few decades.”

The author notes that this is a non-partisan issue which draws criticism from both sides of the aisle for multiple reasons. This federal overreach undermines the competitive and unique nature of state sovereignty, defies the idea of a federal government with well defined and limited powers, and removes the ability of individual states to set sentencing which comports with the views of their citizens.

This sort of legislative sprawl in Washington also raises complicated issues involving a legal principle known as mens rea, which essentially means that citizens wind up facing felony charges involving laws which they didn’t even know existed and certainly held no intent to violate. This particular wrinkle was pointed out last year in a piece at the Wall Street Journal telling the story of one family who ran afoul of Uncle Sam in the most inexplicable of ways.

Eddie Leroy Anderson of Craigmont, Idaho, is a retired logger, a former science teacher and now a federal criminal thanks to his arrowhead-collecting hobby.

In 2009, Mr. Anderson loaned his son some tools to dig for arrowheads near a favorite campground of theirs. Unfortunately, they were on federal land. Authorities “notified me to get a lawyer and a damn good one,” Mr. Anderson recalls.

There is no evidence the Andersons intended to break the law, or even knew the law existed, according to court records and interviews. But the law, the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979, doesn’t require criminal intent and makes it a felony punishable by up to two years in prison to attempt to take artifacts off federal land without a permit.

As if this weren’t enough, expansion of the boundaries of federal law can lead to what should, by any rationale analysis, be examples of double jeopardy. One case in point which currently holds the potential for this is the status of George Zimmerman. Having been found not guilty in Florida on murder charges, there is still discussion of taking him to federal court for the same crime. And that, as was pointed out at Forbes by numerous legal experts, is not a good thing.

Thus Florida can’t charge Zimmerman again, but, presumably, if there is an appropriate statute, the federal government could charge him, since it never charged Zimmerman to begin with.

But does this make sense?

To many legal scholars this precedent is wrongly decided and it’s a matter of current legal controversy. I asked Georgetown Law Professor Randy Barnett for his perspective. Barnett was the architect of the Commerce Clause arguments against Obamacare and was once a former state-court criminal prosecutor in Chicago.

The original meaning of the double-jeopardy bar in the Fifth Amendment must be evaluated in context. At the Founding there was thought to be little, if any, overlap between federal and state laws governing individuals. In light of the modern expansion of federal power, ‘twice put in jeopardy of life or limb’ should be interpreted to mean what it says.

There is a place for federal laws, obviously, but it should center on areas where the states are unable to pursue crime, most commonly from a lack of either resources or jurisdiction. When kidnappers take a victim across state lines, or complicated fraud and fiscal mismanagement schemes involve banks and individuals across the country, there is a clear case for federal jurisdiction. But in the vast majority of instances of private misconduct, the states tend to agree on what is legal and what is not. (And to the great chagrin of some progressives, the list boils down to the Ten Commandments.) What varies is how – and to what extent – each state chooses to punish the offenders. And this is something which should rightly be left to the voters of each state depending on their preferences and needs. Reigning in Washington after they get hold of some power, however, usually proves to be an impossible task.


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The author notes that this is a non-partisan issue which draws criticism from both sides of the aisle for multiple reasons.

It’s lip service from both sides of the aisle. Why would FedGov voluntarily give up their power? What would they have to gain by doing so? The trust of the people? ROFLMMFAO

gryphon202 on April 6, 2014 at 3:33 PM

There should be federal laws for corruption and abuse of power by state and local officials. If state officials are corrupt and the state prosecutors won’t do anything about it, the feds should step in.

OTOH – It is outrageous to have the DEA raiding pot clinics that are legal under state law.

myiq2xu on April 6, 2014 at 3:44 PM

There comes a time when there is no respect for the law and when that happens it unfortunately becomes open season on anyone representing authority. How long will it be before regular people start attempting to harm anyone who works for government in any capacity? It might seem that this anarchic state of affairs is very close at hand.

Warner Todd Huston on April 6, 2014 at 3:44 PM

Reducing this issue to one of “states rights” is just a way of distracting from the real issue and inviting the pre-prepared charges of being a neo-confederate.

The real question that we are never supposed to ask is:

What is the job of the federal government in the first place?

Another Libertarian on April 6, 2014 at 3:45 PM

The states need to regain their sovereignty. They have given it up little by little in return for money.

crankyoldlady on April 6, 2014 at 3:50 PM

There comes a time when there is no respect for the law and when that happens it unfortunately becomes open season on anyone representing authority. How long will it be before regular people start attempting to harm anyone who works for government in any capacity? It might seem that this anarchic state of affairs is very close at hand.

Warner Todd Huston on April 6, 2014 at 3:44 PM

Then let me state for the record right here that I have never called for violence, nor will I ever. But I would caution all of my fellow Americans to stand prepared to defend themselves.

With stories in the news about cops shooting innocent victims as they lay in bed and killing men in front of their families, it’s pretty evident to me that we’re sitting on a powder keg of epic proportions.

gryphon202 on April 6, 2014 at 3:50 PM

Reducing this issue to one of “states rights” is just a way of distracting from the real issue and inviting the pre-prepared charges of being a neo-confederate.

The real question that we are never supposed to ask is:

What is the job of the federal government in the first place?

Another Libertarian on April 6, 2014 at 3:45 PM

The constitution spells that out explicitly.

gryphon202 on April 6, 2014 at 3:51 PM

The states need to regain their sovereignty. They have given it up little by little in return for money.

crankyoldlady on April 6, 2014 at 3:50 PM

Americans don’t have the guts.

gryphon202 on April 6, 2014 at 3:51 PM

There is no evidence the Andersons intended to break the law, or even knew the law existed, according to court records and interviews. But the law, the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979, doesn’t require criminal intent and makes it a felony punishable by up to two years in prison to attempt to take artifacts off federal land without a permit.

Step One, all ‘federal lands’ that are not national parks, or under occupied federal buildings and military bases should be returned to the states.

slickwillie2001 on April 6, 2014 at 3:53 PM

Step One, all ‘federal lands’ that are not national parks, or under occupied federal buildings and military bases should be returned to the states.

slickwillie2001 on April 6, 2014 at 3:53 PM

Nullification fits nicely here. Pass a law in the state legislatures to that effect, and give the county sheriffs the power to enforce the law as necessary against incursion by federal agents. Like I said, we don’t have the guts.

gryphon202 on April 6, 2014 at 3:56 PM

If you believe the Civil War was fought to free the slaves, you just keep telling yourself that.

Ruckus_Tom on April 6, 2014 at 3:57 PM

It is the over-federalization of law. Period.

ajacksonian on April 6, 2014 at 4:24 PM

If you believe the Civil War was fought to free the slaves, you just keep telling yourself that.

Ruckus_Tom on April 6, 2014 at 3:57 PM

I had a wonderful U.S. History & Gov. teacher at a junior college many years ago (who had fled the Czech Republic and gained US citizenship… adopted name Smith) who was adamant that “states rights” was the reason for the war and that the slavery issue was just the catalyst which set it off. His arguments were compelling. I think of that often when musing on what is happening today with the Feds usurping so much authority over all and sundry issues which should be the domain of the states. It is scary that it does not seem that it would take much to cause events to spiral out of control… quickly, if cooler heads do not prevail.

jffree1 on April 6, 2014 at 4:34 PM

The over-federalization of criminal law in America

The states mean nothing to these Washington politicians, especially the Democrats (Socialists). They see them as subsidiaries of Big Government, Inc. that need to shut up and do what they’re told.

The concept of having at least some measure of Democracy through the Jeffersonian Republic has failed us miserably and is increasingly going bye-bye.

Lot of it comes down to the fact that most Americans don’t want to be bothered with politics, and the wonderful attitude that “you can’t fight city hall”.

Seems that every time we got ourselves into some kind of war, our civil liberties are diminished as are States’ Rights. And there have always been plenty in the Conservative sphere to go along with that because every war is Righteous and being Patriotic means rallying ’round the Flag no matter what.

Dr. ZhivBlago on April 6, 2014 at 4:35 PM

It’s always a struggle between state, local and federal jurisdictions and even worse, there is legal “piling on”. There are cases where one criminal act can be concurrently a state, a city and a federal crime-which each jurisdiction getting a potential crack at you. Not only that but EACH jurisdiction can charge you with MULTIPLE crimes for the one act.

It is also true that each jurisdiction wants to “empire build” and increase its power at the expense of the other. Increasing power means more authority, expenditures, employees, influence etc.

Living in a high tax state such as New York, there is no doubt in my mind that New York tax structure is more dictatorial than even our Treasury Department (of which IRS is an integral part.) If New York were a separate country, where citizens had no option to move to a competing state, the Empire State would be worse than the old Soviet Union.

And look at all the laws at all levels of government. You are even a pirate if you download your favorite song from the internet. If you don’t pay a state sales tax on your internet computer purchase, you are a tax cheat subject to fines, penalties and even imprisonment. Its not just sales taxes, NY (and other states) also have “use” taxes–example NY has about a 9% sales and use tax (it varies from town to town because it includes state PLUS local taxes). If you buy a tube of toothpaste in Maine, which has a 5% sales tax, and intend on “using” it when you return to NY–you must pay a “use” tax on the difference–about 4%. Otherwise you are a criminal. If you a soldier enjoying a Sunday morning barracks snooze and you are interrupted by a muscular homosexual fondling your private parts and injure the skunk while defending yourself, you have committed a “hate crime”. In the military, you are also subject to the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice) which is piled on top of state, local and federal jurisdictions.

Of course I do not want to see the federal government subsume state and local crime (or tax) responsibility. Between them by promoting too many rules and regulations, we are, at least in somebody’s jurisdiction,all criminals. Pretty soon it will be a crime to step on the cracks of a sidewalk. I want to see FEWER LAWS (and taxes) at ALL LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT. A few laws very, very strictly enforced, if you please.taxes too.

MaiDee on April 6, 2014 at 4:41 PM

Watch “Enemy of the State” tonight on Fox.

crankyoldlady on April 6, 2014 at 5:07 PM

John Stossel’s Illegal Everything

whatcat on April 6, 2014 at 5:08 PM

Step One, all ‘federal lands’ that are not national parks, or under occupied federal buildings and military bases should be returned to the states.

slickwillie2001 on April 6, 2014 at 3:53 PM

Considering how much the central government has grasped for itself I think it will sadly take a war to get it back.

crankyoldlady on April 6, 2014 at 5:10 PM

Do you really think that we wont those laws to be observed? … We want them broken. … There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted — and you create a nation of law-breakers — and then you cash in on guilt.”

And that, in a nutshell is what this is all about.

LegendHasIt on April 6, 2014 at 5:12 PM

I want to see FEWER LAWS (and taxes) at ALL LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT. A few laws very, very strictly enforced, if you please.taxes too.

MaiDee on April 6, 2014 at 4:41 PM

I so agree with the piling on!! The Use tax is nothing more than a theft tax by a different name. Why should the State you live in get tax money that they have done nothing to earn?

This talk and plan to tax internet sales is another tax strawman.
They use the excuse that the brick & mortar stores are getting cheated out of tax money due to the online stores not charging sales tax. Really? It seems to me to be the other way around.

What brick & mortar store does not have websites? They receive income from both, whereas many businesses have only online stores.
This is especially true of small businesses and start up ones that do not have the funds to have a brick & mortar store. If this internet sales tax is passed, then that will end all small business and start ups.

bluefox on April 6, 2014 at 5:37 PM

John Stossel’s Illegal Everything

whatcat on April 6, 2014 at 5:08 PM

Thanks, I have not seen that, but will.

bluefox on April 6, 2014 at 5:39 PM

Watch “Enemy of the State” tonight on Fox.

crankyoldlady on April 6, 2014 at 5:07 PM

Thanks for the reminder. I’m almost done with Taxes and can come up for air:-)

bluefox on April 6, 2014 at 5:40 PM

Little known federal laws that do not require actual intent are criminalizing average Americans. I knew of a lady who took possession of her husband’s South American Art collection when he abandoned her. Guess what? She got charged with a felony because some of the “art” contained feathers from a freakin “protected” bird.

BigAlSouth on April 6, 2014 at 5:43 PM

And that, in a nutshell is what this is all about.

LegendHasIt on April 6, 2014 at 5:12 PM

The love of money is the root of all evil, true then and true now.

bluefox on April 6, 2014 at 5:45 PM

John Stossel’s Illegal Everything

whatcat on April 6, 2014 at 5:08 PM

Thanks, I have not seen that, but will.

bluefox on April 6, 2014 at 5:39 PM

Yer welcome. It’s a good program – covers police cracking down on kid’s lemonade stands, a Fed swat team coming in with guns drawn at a small store that sold natural milk, other things like prostitution & pot and basically how there are so many laws that it’s almost impossible for anyone to go through a day without breaking one.

whatcat on April 6, 2014 at 5:52 PM

Do you really think that we wont those laws to be observed? … We want them broken. … There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted — and you create a nation of law-breakers — and then you cash in on guilt.”

And that, in a nutshell is what this is all about.

LegendHasIt on April 6, 2014 at 5:12 PM


Your quote made me realize that President Obama’s and the left’s overarching philosphy is one with which Burgermeister Meisterburger would wholeheartedly agree.

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on April 6, 2014 at 6:00 PM

Guess what? She got charged with a felony because some of the “art” contained feathers from a freakin “protected” bird.

BigAlSouth on April 6, 2014 at 5:43 PM

That is awful. More and more of this is happening because Congress has not done their job for so long. They are part of this and many other problems.

If I had a magic wand, I would sacrifice the few good ones we have to be rid of all 535 members. Then I would find working people to replace them.

bluefox on April 6, 2014 at 6:02 PM

John Stossel’s Illegal Everything

whatcat on April 6, 2014 at 5:08 PM

…should be “required” watching…for low info voters!

KOOLAID2 on April 6, 2014 at 6:30 PM

John Stossel’s Illegal Everything

whatcat on April 6, 2014 at 5:08 PM

…should be “required” watching…for low info voters!

KOOLAID2 on April 6, 2014 at 6:30 PM

Maybe posting signs in Spanish at the border? LOL

bluefox on April 6, 2014 at 6:35 PM

This sort of legislative sprawl in Washington also raises complicated issues involving a legal principle known as mens rea, which essentially means that citizens wind up facing felony charges involving laws which they didn’t even know existed and certainly held no intent to violate.

That’s not exactly true, Jazz. Lack of knowledge of the law is no defense and only comes into play if the criminal statute requires the defendants’ knowledge of the law or imposes some sort of affirmative duty on the defendant to know the law.

The legal concept of mens rea includes a lot more than just that scenario, too.

blammm on April 6, 2014 at 6:42 PM

Even making fake maple syrup could be a felony. Yeah.. something we really need protected from.

http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/senate/189087-senate-bill-would-make-syrup-fraud-a-felony

This is the whole point.. the destruction of local law and local government and self government.

I’ve always remembered something one of my old high school teachers told me about the Soviet Union. They had so many laws on the books.. so many that they could stop any citizen at random and find them in violation of the law.

That is the purpose.. to make us all law breakers.

And lets not forget.. if you are a felon you have no gun rights.

JellyToast on April 6, 2014 at 6:48 PM

Most Federal law should really be about criminalizing actions of state governments. Federal laws for private individuals should be confined to controlled substances, communicated fraud, and those necessary laws about obeying federal authorities in their official capacity.

Count to 10 on April 6, 2014 at 6:54 PM

Step One, all ‘federal lands’ that are not national parks, or under occupied federal buildings and military bases should be returned to the states.

slickwillie2001 on April 6, 2014 at 3:53 PM

The only thing the Feds should own is DC. Return it all to the states. The Feds can lease the land from whichever state for military bases, government office space, parks or whatever. And if they lean a little too heavily on the people? Time to renegotiate your lease…

affenhauer on April 6, 2014 at 7:01 PM

Most Federal law should really be about criminalizing actions of state governments. Federal laws for private individuals should be confined to controlled substances, communicated fraud, and those necessary laws about obeying federal authorities in their official capacity.

Count to 10 on April 6, 2014 at 6:54 PM

You mean official constitutional capacity, right? If sheriffs could throw federal agents in the clink for failure to follow the constitution, it would bring me no end of joy.

gryphon202 on April 6, 2014 at 7:09 PM

This federal overreach undermines the competitive and unique nature of state sovereignty, defies the idea of a federal government with well defined and limited powers, and removes the ability of individual states to set sentencing which comports with the views of their citizens.

The real question is what the relevancy of geography is to a given crime that is committed. Say you have a shopping mall that rests on the border of 2 states, with part of the parking lot in 1 state, and part of the parking lot in the other.

If a guy returns from the mall to his car, and is ambushed by a group of thugs with baseball bats and is beaten to death, the two states may each claim jurisdiction depending on what side of the border the man’s car is parked. One state may sentence the thugs to death, while the other may advise that they all be given remedial counseling and a lollipop.

What you end up getting is ridiculously disparate standards of justice, contingent on nothing more than what part of the asphalt that the guy happened to be parked on at the time. Rather than getting equal justice under law, we instead get a morally relativistic disaster that undercuts the idea of the rule of law by saying actions and consequences hold no immutable, objective truth regarding their moral weight, but are instead subject wholly to the arbitrary whim of individual jurisdictions, with no remedy for dealing with capricious differences in compensation for victims and sentencing for criminals.

If you want equal justice under law, then you should have one standard of law, and one criminal code. That should fall under Federal purview.

Stoic Patriot on April 6, 2014 at 7:10 PM

If you want equal justice under law, then you should have one standard of law, and one criminal code. That should fall under Federal purview.

Stoic Patriot on April 6, 2014 at 7:10 PM

That’d be great except for one pesky little factor: The constitution.

gryphon202 on April 6, 2014 at 7:11 PM

Language Martinet here. Two things:

1. “States’ Rights” do not exist. States are governments, which do not have rights. People have rights, and governments derive their just powers to protect these rights from the consent of the governed. It is important that we push back on the conflation of these ideas, because a right is something you don’t have to ask anyone’s permission to do, and when governments think they don’t have to ask our permission, their powers cease to be just, and are called “tyranny”.

2. “Federalization” now means “nationalization”, which is really the antithesis of what “federalism” meant when the Federalist Papers were written. Federalism is the idea that most of the aforementioned just powers should be held at the state level and by the people themselves rather than being delegated to a national government.

The Monster on April 6, 2014 at 7:38 PM

One state may sentence the thugs to death, while the other may advise that they all be given remedial counseling and a lollipop.

Stoic Patriot I congratulate you on a well-written blog and a good analogy. “remedial counseling and a lollipop” for a beating death? You must be referring to Vermont!

There are many problems in your one standard of justice for all scenario. The first and foremost is its implied federalism which, as others pointed out, might be unconstitutional. Your argument would be that one (or more) states might be too lenient (or at least inconsistent) in meting out justice to perpetrators. therefore if we can’t trust a few states to do the “right thing” let’s takes this power away from ALL states in the name of “equity” and “consistency.” This is the same argument that progressives use to strip states (and INDIVIDUALS too) for that matter. A few people can’t be trusted to do “the right thing” with A) GUNS B) THEIR OWN PROPERTY 3) ALCOHOL etc etc etc Therefore FOR THEIR OWN GOOD AND EVERYBODY ELSE’S LET’S HAVE A DICTATORSHIP.

Another problem is that, at least lately, government rulings (unless you’re middle class) have tended to be more on the side remedial counseling and a lollipop. I would rather have laws, inconsistent as they sometimes may be, where MOST states believe in letting the punishment fit the crime.

MaiDee on April 6, 2014 at 7:43 PM

JellyToast on April 6, 2014 at 6:48 PM

I see no problem with a fake maple syrup law. It is in keeping with other laws forbidding the representation of something as something which it is not.

So, if someone sells “pure maple syrup, grade B”, and it’s corn syrup with fake maple flavor and some food dye, or even said material with a dollop of maple syrup to make it “legal”, there you go.

I have great problems with people selling things under false flag, and think that all such misrepresentations should be illegal.

We could start with Obamacare.

unclesmrgol on April 6, 2014 at 7:53 PM

I forgot the disclosure: I buy real maple syrup for my waffles. Not Aunt Jemima, or Log Cabin. Real maple syrup. And it’s expensive. But I can taste the difference — and it’s a strong difference.

unclesmrgol on April 6, 2014 at 7:56 PM

That is the purpose.. to make us all law breakers.

And lets not forget.. if you are a felon you have no gun rights.

JellyToast on April 6, 2014 at 6:48 PM

Is it not also true that those in the Military that are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder also lose their gun rights?

bluefox on April 6, 2014 at 8:03 PM

Language Martinet here. Two things:

1. “States’ Rights” do not exist. States are governments, which do not have rights. People have rights, and governments derive their just powers to protect these rights from the consent of the governed. It is important that we push back on the conflation of these ideas, because a right is something you don’t have to ask anyone’s permission to do, and when governments think they don’t have to ask our permission, their powers cease to be just, and are called “tyranny”.

And what do should we do with unjust laws? That’s right, kids! Ignore them!

2. “Federalization” now means “nationalization”, which is really the antithesis of what “federalism” meant when the Federalist Papers were written. Federalism is the idea that most of the aforementioned just powers should be held at the state level and by the people themselves rather than being delegated to a national government.

The Monster on April 6, 2014 at 7:38 PM

This is why I prefer the term “subsidiarity.” In the history of world governments, only two of them have ever had subsidiarity written into their founding documents. America was one, and the other was ancient Israel.

gryphon202 on April 6, 2014 at 8:23 PM

MaiDee on April 6, 2014 at 7:43 PM

I appreciate your well-considered reply (Vermont is assuredly one of the looney states I had in mind). Certainly there’s constitutional issues at play, but as we know, the constitution can be amended.

The core of your argument revolves around the notion of risk, and trusting the government with getting the justice system right. Regardless of whether one thinks that the law should be constructed Federally or at the state level, neither conclusion determines the content of those laws.

The content of those laws is ultimately set by the combined efforts of the three branches of government, which we the people exercise control over (certainly the first 2 branches, which in turn exercises control over the third). But if we’ve reached a point of distrust of the government (and as it is a reflection of the American people, our fellow countrymen) that is so pronounced that we would rather remove from it the ability to mete out justice, then I wonder why we would even bother to maintain such a government. At that point breaking away from the union, with states declaring their independence and asserting full sovereignty would seem to be the better option. Federalism otherwise seems to then just be a means of keeping a zombie-government around that people then don’t want and would rather see perish anyway.

But if we take that off the table, and we’re talking about how things “ought” to be, then it seems to me that we’re envisioning an idealized government that presupposes away that level of distrust and dysfunction.

Stoic Patriot on April 6, 2014 at 9:06 PM

But if we take that off the table, and we’re talking about how things “ought” to be, then it seems to me that we’re envisioning an idealized government that presupposes away that level of distrust and dysfunction.

Stoic Patriot on April 6, 2014 at 9:06 PM

Distrust and dysfunction were assumed by our founding fathers, and wisely so. That’s why they reserved most power to the states. To seek to eliminate distrust and dysfunction sounds like a function of utopian thinking to me, and I’ve never been much for that.

gryphon202 on April 6, 2014 at 9:24 PM

I see no problem with a fake maple syrup law. It is in keeping with other laws forbidding the representation of something as something which it is not.

I have great problems with people selling things under false flag, and think that all such misrepresentations should be illegal.

unclesmrgol on April 6, 2014 at 7:53 PM

I’m surprised at you not looking a little further than maple syrup.
This is one of those “false flags” you spoke of, i.e. an excuse for something more.

Under the bill, S. 1742, selling fake maple syrup would be listed as an act of fraud that is seen as a felony offense, along with falsifying bank entries, mortgage transactions, loan applications and citizenship records, along with dozens of other activities.

Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/senate/189087-senate-bill-would-make-syrup-fraud-a-felony#ixzz2y9nwOVlD

What are these “dozens of other activities?” The devil is always in the details. Once you find out what those are, you will understand the “excuse” the maple syrup false flag is used for.

bluefox on April 6, 2014 at 9:25 PM

Is it not also true that those in the Military that are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder also lose their gun rights?

bluefox on April 6, 2014 at 8:03 PM

Partially. I don’t think there is a real rule, but there have been enough instances where any PTSD diagnosis or request for mental help has been turned into gun confiscation and possible removal of gun rights. That is certainly the fear of many in the military and those who love them.

Kevin K. on April 6, 2014 at 9:46 PM

Watching “Enemies of the State” on Fox. These cases reflect the definition of tyranny, imo. Strange that all of the government agencies that descended on Gibson Guitar for example, are helpless when it comes to the IRS abuses. They just can’t seem to find anything that Congress calls for; amazing.

True The Vote have not only Dems against them, but the Republicans too. We know from Boehner & McConnell’s own words they won’t speak on behalf of True The Vote either.

Vote everyone of the House members that have a Candidate running against them and every Senator out of office. Maybe then we may have a chance.

bluefox on April 6, 2014 at 9:56 PM

bluefox on April 6, 2014 at 8:03 PM

Partially. I don’t think there is a real rule, but there have been enough instances where any PTSD diagnosis or request for mental help has been turned into gun confiscation and possible removal of gun rights. That is certainly the fear of many in the military and those who love them.

Kevin K. on April 6, 2014 at 9:46 PM

I’ve heard as much. That info may show up when a background check is run.

bluefox on April 6, 2014 at 10:00 PM

JellyToast on April 6, 2014 at 6:48 PM

unclesmrgol on April 6, 2014 at 7:53 PM

bluefox on April 6, 2014 at 9:25 PM

On that Hill article and S.1742, there must have been a mistake on the bill number. Here is what I found on Thomas:

S. 1742

To temporarily suspend the collection of entrance fees at units of the National Park System and the National Wildlife Refuge System.

It doesn’t list any co-sponsors nor Amendments.http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c113:S.1742:

Don’t have time to search for the correct S.# at this time. Whatever it is, there is more than meets the eye with this.

bluefox on April 6, 2014 at 10:45 PM

Filed under “Spell Checker is Not Your Friend”

Reigning in Washington after they get hold of some power, however, usually proves to be an impossible task.

Reigning (ruling) in Washington is quite possible once sufficient power is accumulated — and is, in fact, the goal.

However, reining in (directing or stopping, as with bridle and reins) Washington is indeed impossible.

AesopFan on April 6, 2014 at 11:45 PM

That is the purpose.. to make us all law breakers.

And lets not forget.. if you are a felon you have no gun rights.

JellyToast on April 6, 2014 at 6:48 PM

There is no practical justification for non-violent felons to be stripped of their right to possess a firearm.

BigAlSouth on April 7, 2014 at 5:58 AM

“Corruptissima re publica plurimae leges: The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws. — Tacitus, in The Annals of The Roman Empire.”

Does the number of federal criminal statutes the article references, 4500+, include the thousands of regulations written by non-elected bureaucrats to whom congress in their wisdom has delegated the power to write what are effectively criminal laws?

Nomas on April 7, 2014 at 6:40 AM

There is a place for federal laws, obviously, but it should center on areas where the states are unable to pursue crime, most commonly from a lack of either resources or jurisdiction.

No. If the state needs more resources to fight intrastate crime, they can go appeal to the people – their constituents – for it. The federal government has no business helping out because the state doesn’t have the resources.

GWB on April 7, 2014 at 9:20 AM

The growing, oppressive, intrussive, out-of-control power of the Federal government is an ever-increasing threat to this nation, and this power needs to be wrested / stripped and returned to the States where they balong, according to the Founding Fathers and the Constitution.

The very first step to return the balance of power back to what it should be as specified by the Constitution is the Impeachment of President Obama, who has and continuously violates both the Constitution and law.

easyt65 on April 7, 2014 at 9:20 AM

At its inception, criminal law was directed at conduct that society recognized as inherently wrongful and, in some sense, immoral. These acts were wrongs in and of themselves (malum in se), such as murder, rape, and robbery. In recent times the reach of the criminal law has been expanded so that it now addresses conduct that is wrongful not because of its intrinsic nature but because it is a prohibited wrong (malum prohibitum) — that is, a wrong created by a legislative body to serve some perceived public good. These essentially regulatory crimes have come to be known as “public welfare” offenses.

Today the criminal law has strayed far from its historical roots. Where once the criminal law was an exclusively moral undertaking, it now has expanded to the point that it is principally utilitarian in nature. In some instances the law now makes criminal the failure to act in conformance with some imposed legal duty. In others the law criminalizes conduct undertaken without any culpable intent. And many statutes punish those whose acts are wrongful only by virtue of legislative determination.

In other words, a governing body sets rules that ostensibly serve what the Political Classes say is good for the “public welfare,” and then these rules are enforced by the State. Lest one think I overstate the problem, the following statistic starkly proves my point: More than half of America’s two million prisoners are incarcerated because they allegedly violated drug laws. Every drug which these people either ingested or traded at one time or another in U.S. History has been legal.

Our government consider “public welfare” laws to be more important than the laws that were crafted around those acts that nearly every society throughout history deemed to be criminal, and the scope and brutality of how those “public welfare” laws are enforced proves my point. That these things are widely accepted in the USA without much dissent is sad proof that most Americans have come to accept and even embrace this new and monstrous legal regime.

The implications of this shift of thinking are deep and wide. Societies in which people are obsessed with keeping rules (and punishing rule breakers) are not societies in which entrepreneurship can flourish. Entrepreneurs, by definition, tend to break the unspoken rules by challenging the economic status quo. A society governed by draconian rules cannot be a free society, nor can it be an innovative society, as those whose heads begin to stick above the crowd surely will find themselves in the crosshairs of the Political Classes.

Take the fate of Michael Milken, for example. This is a man who helped to fund some of the most important entrepreneurial ventures of the 20th Century and whose business acumen enabled entrepreneurs who otherwise would not have received financing from the bureaucratic and heavily-regulated financial establishment for their innovations. Not surprisingly, his own financial empire was destroyed because U.S. Attorney Rudy Giuliani alleged Milken was “breaking rules” and managed to try Milken in the media, thus depriving Milken of justice.

(In order to whip up the media hatefest, Giuliani regularly spewed his disinformation through the establishment newspapers, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, which were quite happy to help enable Giuliani to commit real felonies of illegally leaking grand jury information while simultaneously claiming to be “watchdogs” of government abuses. The irony – or naked hypocrisy, to be honest – could not be greater.)

With rules come procedures, and Americans today are being boiling in a cauldron of petty rules and bureaucracy. However, like the frog who permits himself to be boiled alive because the water temperatures around him change too slowly for him to notice he is in danger, so are Americans being boiled alive in the rules created by the Political Classes. The end result is ugly, but Americans seem not to notice because they are too busy trying to figure out how to obey the rules.

roflmmfao

donabernathy on April 7, 2014 at 10:34 AM

When you have a DHS with a billion rounds of 9mm hollow point. Ya’ gotta have some criminals.

bluesdoc70 on April 7, 2014 at 10:54 AM