News Release ~ 02/09/2012

House of Representatives Correct to Reject Flawed ‘Public Corruption’ Amendment to STOCK Act

Washington, DC (February 9, 2012) – Today, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly adopted legislation without the “public corruption” amendment included in the Senate version on a voice vote without debate. While the attention of the media and the public have been focused largely on the insider trading provisions of the primary piece of legislation, the STOCK Act, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor boldly and correctly rejected that amendment, which would have turned bad legislation into even worse law.

The amendment had sought to re-write multiple criminal laws in precisely the way the Supreme Court has declared would be unconstitutionally vague and overbroad. See Skilling v. United States, 130 S.Ct. 2896 (2010); United States v. Sun-Diamond Growers of California, 526 U.S. 398 (1999). Importantly, decades of successful prosecutions of corrupt public officials with the over two dozen federal criminal statutes already in existence belies all assertions that the Department of Justice desperately needs more tools in order to prevent public corruption. The “Public Corruption” Amendment, both in its substance and in the manner in which it was piggybacked onto the STOCK Act, provides further compelling evidence of a disturbing and costly overcriminalization trend in Congress.

According to NACDL President Lisa Wayne, “There are over 4,450 federal criminal laws on the books and tens of thousands more in the regulations. It’s actions like these – the unconsidered rushing through of harsh criminal law solutions to vague or undefined problems – that got our nation to this terrible place.”

For a library of materials concerning honest services and public corruption legislation, including detail regarding the U.S. Supreme Court’s rejection of prior congressional efforts such as the Leahy Amendment as unconstitutional, please visit: www.nacdl.org/honestservices. To read more about NACDL’s efforts to combat the scourge of overcriminalization and the overfederalization of the criminal law, generally, please visit www.nacdl.org/overcrim.

Contact: Ivan Dominguez, Deputy Director of Public Affairs & Communications, (202) 465-7662 or idominguez@nacdl.org.

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's approximately 10,000 direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal justice system.

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