Crime

St George Tucker was the pre-eminent constitutional scholar of the American founding era. He published View of the Constitution of the United States in 1803 as a comprehensive review of the Constitution of 1787 and the Bill of Rights. Felonies not enumerated within the United States Constitution are, in Tucker’s view, left within the jurisdiction of the state.

. . . the very guarded manner in which congress are vested with authority to legislate upon the subject of crimes, and misdemeanors. They are not entrusted with a general power over these subjects, but a few offenses are selected from the great mass of crimes with which society may be infested, upon which, only, congress are authorized to prescribe the punishment, or define the offense. All felonies and offenses committed upon land, in all cases not expressly enumerated, being reserved to the states respectively. (View of the Constitution of the United States, p. 210-211)

US Constitution, Article I, Section 8 Clause 6: “To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;” US Constitution, Article III Section 3 Clause 2: “The Congress shall have power to declare the Punishment of Treason” Amendment 10: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Crime, in most cases, is to be dealt with by state and local governments. To the degree that the federal government, in its legislation, in its judicial actions, in its regulations, and in its executive branch activities, interferes with the ability of the people in their communities to apprehend, judge, and penalize accused lawbreakers, it bears responsibility for the climate of crime, which has grown more destructive with each passing year.

We favor the right of states and localities to execute criminals convicted of capital crimes and to require restitution for the victims of criminals. Federal involvement in state and local criminal justice processes should be limited to that which is Constitutionally permitted.

All who are accused of crimes, petty to capital, shall have a trial by jury upon request, and the jury shall be fully informed of its right to nullify the law. Furthermore, we oppose defendants being charged and tried by both state and federal jurisdictions under different laws for the same alleged criminal act, thus violating the Constitutionally secured prohibition against double jeopardy.

We are opposed to “hate crime” legislation and to enhanced penalties for so called hate crimes. We recognize that a real result of the designation of “hate crime” is to extend federal jurisdiction to crimes which would otherwise be in the province of the states.

 

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