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Too Many Laws

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Yesterday, I documented that there are too many regulations in America. There are also too many laws. The Heritage Foundation has put together some important facts and figures in their investigation of the over-criminalization in this country.

Today there are more than 4,500 criminal laws and probably more than 300,000 relevant federal regulations. This was not always so. In their article, they have a graph that shows the “Explosive Growth of Federal Criminal Law.” The greatest growth took place in the 20th century, and we have had a dramatic increase in criminal laws since 1980.

The authors also found that there “are now so many statutes and regulations making conduct a crime that the Congressional Research Service, the U.S. Justice Department, and the American Bar Association cannot even count all the offenses.” If legal experts cannot keep track of all these laws, how can the average person be expected to know them?

Sadly, many of the newest laws have a dangerous flaw. “Many federal criminal laws make it possible for the government to convict someone even if he acted unknowingly or without criminal intent.” That means you and I can never really know if we are safe from prosecution.

There are solutions. First, Congress should repeal unjust or unnecessary criminal laws. They should begin with laws that make it a crime to engage in conduct that no reasonable person would think was unlawful.  Second, Congress should be forced to justify all new criminal laws. At the very least, Congress should provide a written analysis and justification for every new or modified criminal offense. Third, Congress should not delegate power to those in the bureaucracy. Unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats should not be allowed to essentially write criminal laws and penalties.

The over-criminalization of America is a problem many of my radio guests have talked about. The Heritage Foundation provides some important facts and common sense solutions Congress should enact.

Viewpoints by Kerby Anderson

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