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Too Many Federal Laws!

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ARE WE ALL FEDERAL CRIMINALS

LIVING IN  LOUISIANA?


Louisiana State Senator Derrick Shepherd gets in a tussle with his girlfriend over the weekend and he’s hauled off to federal court.  Is there any violation of the law that is not considered a federal offense?  If anyone actually takes the time to read the U.S. Constitution, there are only three crimes specifically enumerated.  Treason, piracy and counterfeiting.  So why has Congress undertaken an overzealous expansion of criminal laws?

 A report from the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Legal and Judicial Studies recently determined that there are some 4500 federal crimes listed in the US Code.  It used to be that Congress would create one particular crime by passing a new law.  But in recent years, multiple crimes are listed within the same statute.  One new law enacted right after 9/11 contained 60 new crimes.  Were they really necessary?

 Our representatives in Washington now want to delve into any number of local crimes, flaunting the intention of our country’s founders.  Drugs, robbery, car theft, the list goes on and on.  What happened to the 14th amendment and states rights?

 Many of the federal crimes seem to be punitive, arbitrary and bewildering.  Harvard law professor William Stuntz puts it this way: “We are coming even closer to living in a country where laws on the books makes everybody a felon, and prosecutors get to decide what the law is and who has violated it.”

 Did you know that it is a federal crime to deal in the interstate transport of unlicensed dentures?  For this you get one year in jail.

 How about the fact that you can go to jail for six months if you pretend to be a member of the 4-H club?  I’m not making this up.

 You can also get six months for degrading the character of Woodsy Owl, or his associated slogan: “Give a hoot — Don’t pollute.”

 And you’ll love this one.  It is a federal crime to disrupt a rodeo.  Now in Louisiana, we yield to no one in our desire for orderly rodeos.  But a federal crime?  Give me a break!

 You can see from these examples, it’s not a liberal or conservative thing.  Many of the laws listed make little sense.  In this day and age, the average citizen can get hauled off to jail for trivial things that no sane person would regard as a crime at all.  There is a new alliance in Washington.  An unholy alliance between anti-big business liberals, and tough-on-crime conservatives.  They all seem to be trying to show that they are serious prognosticators cracking down on the social problem of the month, whether it be corporate scandals or steroid use.

 The Louisiana legislative delegation is not immune from federalitis, and has joined in the parade of parochialism within the federal system.  Senator David Vitter has proposed legislation to make it a felony for the interstate sale of paraphernalia that straps on a rooster’s leg during a cock fight.  And Senator Mary Landrieu wants to ban the transportation of horses across state lines to be shipped out of the country for consumption.  Can we just imagine the future disruption of our American way of life if their efforts are unsuccessful?

 Our members of Congress go to Washington today and seem to be immediately aphrodisized with the power they obtain.  Something similar to Tolkien’s ring.  Often decent and intelligent people who get the ring of power and it changes them. They can’t put it down; they can’t let it go.  The more laws you pass, the better you look back home.  And when there’s crime involved, you really come across as a tough guy, right?

 Many members of Congress seem not to understand the difference between violation of a regulation and a crime.  But there are a number of actions that are illegal but not criminal, and if criminal, then do not necessarily have to be federally criminal.  Have we reached the point where people in Louisiana and throughout the country have come to accept that any federal agency with power is somehow a police power?  Both conservatives and liberals ought to be worried about the expansion of federal criminal law if we value our liberty, which our Founders specifically understood to mean leaving general police powers at the local level.

 In 400 B.C., the Greek orator Isocrates stated: “Where there is a multitude of specific laws, it is a sign that the state is badly governed.”  Tasedus wrote in the 1st century A.D. of Rome:  “Formerly we suffered from crimes.  Now we suffer from laws.”

 A little common sense, often not attributed to Washington, would go a long way in allowing Congress to deal with problems of national concern.  Leave the parochial to the states.  And for goodness sake, let us get a little rowdy at our rodeos.

 

                                                               *******

 

“Herein is the most dangerous power of the prosecutor;

 that he will pick people he think he should get,

rather than cases that need to be prosecuted.

With the law books filled with a great assortment

of crimes, a prosecutor stands a fair chance of finding at

least a technical violation of some act  on the part of

almost anyone.”

                                                                                                                                                 Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson

 

 Peace and Justice.

 Jim Brown

 Jim Brown’s weekly column appears in a number of newspapers and websites throughout the State of Louisiana.  You can read Jim’s Blog, and take his weekly poll, plus read his columns going back to the fall of 2002 by going to his own website at http://www.jimbrownla.com.

 

Jim’s radio show on WRNO (995 fm) from New Orleans can be heard each Sunday, from 11:00 am until 1:00 pm.

 

 

 

11 Responses
  1. Don W.

    Jim, once again you hit the nail on the head. There are too many laws and regulations on both federal and state books. There needs to be a movement in this country, where our state and federal lawmakers are not allowed to enact any new laws for the next 2 years. A team of everyday citizens should be formed to list for elimination all of the silly laws that are now on the books. Let’s get back to the basic federal and state constitutions as written, with the first few amendments; such as the 13,14,&15th amendments to the federal constitution. Thank you,

  2. Jim:

    Well said! Since most legislation takes money or rights away from someone, we do well to consider the question: What harm will come to the public if certain legislation is not adopted? How have we been able to operate, survive, progress, live, etc. without this? Therefore, if there are not compelling reasons to vote FOR new legislation, it is probably wiser to vote NO. Here are some other thoughts along the same lines:
    ·Beware lawmakers who “frame mischief by a law” – Ps. 94:20.
    ·”Let all the laws be clear, uniform and precise: to interpret laws is almost always to corrupt them.” -Voltaire
    ·”Laws too gentle are seldom obeyed; too severe, seldom executed.”
    ·”Les lois inutiles affaiblissent les lois necessaires.” (Useless laws weaken those laws that are necessary). -Beaumarchais
    ·”It is easy to think the State has a lot of different objects – military, political, economic, and what not. But in a way things are much simpler than that. The State exists simply to promote and to protect the ordinary happiness of human beings in this life. A husband and wife chatting over a fire, a couple of friends having a game of darts in a pub, a man reading a book in his own room or digging in his own garden –
    that is what the State is there for. And unless they are helping to increase
    and prolong and protect such moments, all the laws, parliaments, armies, courts, police, economics, etc., are simply a waste of time.” – C. S. Lewis (1898-1963), British novelist

    Retired Judges of America (www.retiredjudges.org) was created to call attention to America’s “Organic Laws” as set forth at the outset of America’s U.S. Code – back when lawmakers were sensitive to the truths you well explicate in your blog post.

  3. Lana R.

    Jim,

    I agree with you that there are way too many ridiculous and cumbersome laws on the federal books. However, in Derrick Shepherd’s case, I believe he was hauled into fed. court because he was already under indictiment and had violated his bond with his recent foolishness.

  4. Martha Kane

    This is much like the British from whom we rebelled. The laws and taxes were onerous, so we had a revolution. Unfortunately, before the Constitution was written and ratified, judges, sheriffs and such made such laws as they wished, and enforced them on an unequal basis. Thus, Shay’s Rebellion. We are already in that position, at the local, state, and federal level. It seems as though it can only get worse. I predict that as people become more opressed by bad laws, unfair taxes and equally bad enforcement, they will revive the cry of those New Englanders, “Live Free or Die”. I hope that I will not still be here when the Great Uprising comes, but it WILL come. Should I still be alive, I will do my duty. We have lost most freedoms guaranteed by our “Bill of Rights”, and it continues in all levels of government. We will rise up or become slaves to our elected officials. It’s our choice. Have we become too fat, lazy and self centered to hang on to Liberty? Seems to me we have. God have mercy upon us for squandering his one of his greatest gifts.

  5. Martha Kane

    This is much like the British from whom we rebelled. The laws and taxes were onerous, so we had a revolution. Unfortunately, before the Constitution was written and ratified, judges, sheriffs and such made such laws as they wished, and enforced them on an unequal basis. Thus, Shay’s Rebellion. We are already in that position, at the local, state, and federal level. It seems as though it can only get worse. I predict that as people become more opressed by bad laws, unfair taxes and equally bad enforcement, they will revive the cry of those New Englanders, “Live Free or Die”. I hope that I will not still be here when the Great Uprising comes, but it WILL come. Should I still be alive, I will do my duty. We have lost most freedoms guaranteed by our “Bill of Rights”, and it continues in all levels of government. We will rise up or become slaves to our elected officials. It’s our choice. Have we become too fat, lazy and self centered to hang on to Liberty? Seems to me we have. God have mercy upon us for squandering his one of his greatest gifts.

  6. Rose Mary DeLouise

    Good job, Jim, as usual.

    We will soon have a militant
    government with NO regard for indiviual rights. It is time for the voices of the people
    to be really listened to, not
    with thougts already in place with an answer but allowing new (although old) ideas to be heard. Keep up the good work.

  7. Brian

    Poor interpretation of laws by the judicial would seem to contribute to the large number of laws necessary by the legislative branch to some degree.

  8. Jim: Just wanted you to know I am still in Monroe and doing well. I enjoy your column and read it often but you are particularly right here as to useless laws and the obvious and insidious invasion of individual states’ rights vis-a-vis the federal government’s intrusiveness. Add Billy Coenen to your list. he was arraigned today in Monroe. All the best, Bill.

  9. Joe Reynolds

    I would like to see all the congressmen and senators at the federal and state levels take a 5 year paid vacation and just let us common citizens work our way out of all the messed up stuff they keep trying to fix.
    Just go home and don’t do anything for 5 years.

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