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  • A Bird-Brained Use of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act

    Do you own a home with large windows? Is there a cat that you let out in your backyard?  If so, then you might just wind up violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), if the federal government’s interpretation of the Act is allowed to stand. The 1918 law was … More

    Senate's Public Corruption Move Raises Overcriminalization Concerns

    The Senate is currently considering the addition of a public corruption bill as an amendment to the STOCK Act.  While the goal of reining in public corruption is laudable, as has been discussed before, many of the policies in the proposed amendment raise significant overcriminalization concerns. Heritage, a task force … More

    Is Coal de Minimus? The Problem with the Alabama Ethics Commission

    In the wake of a number of corruption scandals, the Alabama legislature endeavored to reform their system by enacting tough ethics laws. But does that mean that a student can no longer give a teacher a Christmas gift?  For some students and parents in the Yellowhammer State, that may mean … More

    Peace on Earth—even on Capitol Hill

    Perhaps it was only because ‘tis the season, but there was some rare harmony on Capitol Hill at the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security on Tuesday morning.  Edwin Meese, former attorney general and Chairman of the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies here at Heritage, gave testimony, … More

    "Professor" Holder's Criminal Law Lesson

    When Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) asked Attorney General Eric Holder to explain the letters concerning Fast and Furious that were withdrawn by DOJ because they were “inaccurate,” as well other misstatements by Holder’s Justice Department in the investigation of the gun-walking disaster, Holder was quick to his own defense, arguing … More

    No Need to Muddy Criminal Law in Order to "Clean Up Government"

    With their institution at all-time lows in public popularity and trust, it is no wonder that members of Congress are looking to improve the body’s image.  The “Clean Up Government Act,” which is coming before the House Judiciary Committee this week, is one of the most prominent attempts to do … More

    For Proponents of More Federal Criminal Legislation, Ignorance of the Law Is Bliss

    Animal rights activists and commercial fisherman may find little common ground, but both can share their plight as victims of overcriminalization.  The front page story in the Wall Street Journal juxtaposes these often-at-odds groups because they are vulnerable to the problems of overbroad and ambiguous legislation… along with the rest … More

    Overcriminalization Victimizes Animal-Loving 11-Year-Old and Her Mother

    Last month, a hyper-aggressive U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agent, accompanied by a Virginia state trooper, arrived at Alison Capo’s door to announce that our friendly federal government intended to make her a federal criminal. The reason? Alison’s daughter Skylar rescued a woodpecker from being eaten by a cat. The … More