Carte Blanche: Federal Prosecution of State and Local Officials after Sabri
53 Pages Posted: 5 Oct 2004
Federal prosecutions of state and local officials for political corruption are a significant feature of the American political landscape. However, they raise serious federalism questions, especially the potential impact on state autonomy and sovereignty. Thus, these prosecutions would seem to run counter to the Supreme Court's "New Federalism." The Court has never explored the issue in depth. Last term it handed down a decision highly favorable to the federal role in the case of Sabri v. United States. This paper examines Sabri, and questions the rationale that the prosecution in that case was an example of justifiable protection of federal funds. The article offers an alternative perspective, namely, that the Court was anxious to further the anti-corruption imperative demonstrated in McConnell (the Campaign Finance Reform case). The article concludes with possible alternative rationales for a strong federal role in overseeing state and local governments and for a general anti-corruption statute.
Keywords: political corruption, Section 666, mail fraud, Hobbs Act, federalism
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