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Lazy Law Update December 12, 2011

Posted by federalist in Government Regulation.
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During a long story on one example, the WSJ offers this update on the proliferation of laws, rules, and prosecutorial power I call Lazy Law:

Today, there are an estimated 4,500 federal crimes on the books, a significant increase from the three in the Constitution (treason, piracy and counterfeiting). There is an additional, and much larger, number of regulations written to enforce the laws. …

Many of these federal infractions are now easier to prosecute than in the past because of a weakening in a bedrock doctrine of Anglo-American jurisprudence: the principle of mens rea, or “guilty mind,” which holds that a person shouldn’t be convicted if he hasn’t shown an intent to do something wrong.