At High Court, Right And Left Unite Opposing “Overcriminalization”


In pending Supreme Court cases on the rights of people accused of drug, sex, and corruption crimes, conservative, libertarian, and business groups have joined civil liberties groups and defense lawyers on the side of the accused, the New York Times reports. “It's a remarkable phenomenon,” said Norman Reimer of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. “In the area of criminal justice, the whole idea of less government, less intrusion, less regulation has taken hold.”

“Overcriminalization” is at the heart of the conservative critique of crime policy. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce made the point in a brief about a federal law often used to prosecute corporate executives and politicians. The law, which makes it a crime for officials to defraud their employers of “honest services,” is, the brief said, both “unintelligible” and “used to target a staggeringly broad swath of behavior.” The Supreme Court will hear three cases concerning the honest-services law this term, indicating an exceptional interest in the topic.

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