Wednesday, August 06, 2003

The marvel of our federal structure is its flexibility. Suppose, for instance, you're John Ashcroft, and you want to institute an invasive program scrutinizing the financial and other records of scads of people on whom you couldn't possibly meet probable cause requirements. And let's suppose Congress has slapped you down. Well, you can always fund a similar initiative by a friendly state government, like Florida's, one which won't even care that the politically connected guy running the project is apparently a former drug smuggler himself.

Conversely, let's suppose there's a crime which would ordinarily be prosecuted at the state level, but the state isn't going for capital punishment, and you really want to fry somebody. You can preempt the local authorities by bringing charges at the federal level. Mind you, the system has its flaws -- the lily-livered local jury may focus on trivialities like "reasonable doubt" and "lack of evidence" and fail to convict -- but at least the system gives you the option.

And some people say he's got no respect for the basic principles of American law...

(some links via The Daily Kos).


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