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Supreme Court: Isn't That $175,000 Bribe Really Just $175,000 'Speech'?
Funtimes at the US Supreme Court! In hearing an appeal to former Virginia Governor and current felon Bob McDonnell's conviction for Duke Cunningham levels of bribe-taking, the court seemed to be questioning whether federal laws mandating that you not take bribes might be unconstitutionally vague! It is true, how are you even supposed to know what "don't take bribes" means, it might mean "honey where did you put the car keys," or "let's go fishing," or "I've got this thing and it's fucking golden and I can, I can use it to parachute me in there." Why is Rod Blagojevich in jail anyway? Why can't he sell a Senate appointment to the highest bidder???
Give us the rundown, Washington Post!
The 2016 presidential campaign has featured an outpouring of protest by voters against “politics as usual.” But the justices had a different aim in mind — drawing a clear line that would keep overzealous prosecutors from converting common gestures of politicians into criminal acts. [Chief Justice John] Roberts, for instance, mentioned a hypothetical example of a governor who goes trout fishing with the head of a company seeking tax incentives to relocate to that governor’s state. [Justice Stephen] Breyer offered the example of an expensive bottle of wine bought at a lunch to thank an official for a courtesy.
Well, Justice Breyer, there are laws about how much you can spend on wine for public officials! And in pretty much every state including Virginia, it is less than $175,000!
The Washington Post says Bob McDonnell and his lovely bride taking $175,000 in cash and wedding banquets from his buddy is not against Virginia law; we're not sure how that squares with the link above, which says legislators can't accept gifts over $100, unless it's because "the governor is not a legislator." I am neither a lawyer nor the Washington Post, so ... ???
According to the Post's wrapup of yesterday's oral arguments, the Court is very concerned about the overbroad vagueness of "don't take bribes." How can you tell it is really a bribe, the Court has been asking since it overturned the conviction of Enron's Jeffrey Skilling (UGH) by narrowing "honest services fraud" to "yeah, Duke Cunningham ACTUALLY HAD A BRIBE MENU, so that maaaaybe counts."
It is an excellent question. Are we criminalizing "everyday acts" of grifting and greed? And is that really fair? Wasn't Bob McDonnell's pal just giving him $175,000 worth of speech? Why do you hate the First Amendment, "good government" jerks?
Wait for the Supreme Court to legalize bribery in Citizens United 2: The Griftening, coming whenever, unless Scalia stays dead.
[ WaPo ]