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Measuring the Explosive Growth of Federal Crime Legislation

Recorded on September 13, 2004

Location: The Heritage Foundation's Lehrman Auditorium

Join us as two former U.S. Attorneys General discuss Professor John S. Baker, Jr.'s, groundbreaking study, "Measuring the Explosive Growth of Federal Crime Legislation." In this study commissioned by The Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies, Professor Baker conducted a thorough review of all federal criminal statutes and documented a number of conclusions. There are now 4,000 offenses that carry criminal penalties in the United States Code. This number reflects an increase of over 30% since 1980. A substantial number of newly enacted federal statutes address environmental issues. Recent scholarship suggests that mens rea requirements for federal crimes are increasingly unclear, and this phenomenon, coupled with the increase in the number of criminal statutes, has created uncertainty and unpredictability over exactly what acts are criminal. With the Supreme Court's recent decision in Blakely v. Washington regarding sentencing guidelines, the situation has been further confounded.

Our distinguished speakers will analyze this exploding growth of federal crime legislation and its implications
for federalism, commerce, and changing ideas about the role of government in enforcing corporate and environmental responsibility.