Unanimous Supreme Court Rejects "Unrestrained Power for Prosecutors"

This is yet another case in a series of recent cases that we have discussed on this blog indicating a dangerous trend of politicizing justice. It has continued to be a favorite tactic utilized by the left while attempting to silence those with differing opinions. We discussed it when groups attempted to enforce the law of the land , again when the left went after Rick Perry,  then when a leftist AG harassed non-profits involved in scientific research, once again with the current DOJ attorney’s ethics violations in U.S. v. Texas and finally in the Planned Parenthood allegations against David Daleiden.

This has also become a preferred path for those who seek to silence free speech. As a country, we should not support throwing tantrums.  In an unanimous decision, SCOTUS reversed former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell’s 11 corruption convictions today. Chief Justice Roberts wrote the opinion of the court. The Richmond Times-Dispatch put out an article earlier today discussing some of the finer points of the case (emphasis added).

“The government openly advocates a legal rule that would make a felon of every official at every level of government — from a Cabinet secretary to a janitor — who accepts travel in exchange for public appearances, who has lunch with a lobbyist when both know the lobbyist will pick up the check, who trades campaign contributions for a few minutes of time, or who cleans one classroom with special care because its teacher brings him gift cards,” McDonnell’s lawyers wrote in one of his appeal briefs.

Before McDonnell's case was argued before the Supreme Court, some analysts thought his case suffered a blow with the February death of Justice Antonin Scalia. That left the high court with four justices nominated by Republican presidents and four nominated by Democratic presidents.

[. . .] On April 27, when the Supreme Court heard McDonnell's appeal of his 11 corruption convictions, the justices questioned lawyers about what constitutes “official action” by public officials and expressed concern about giving unbridled power to prosecutors who are probing corruption.

That day, a sometimes frustrated Justice Stephen G. Breyer, who was nominated by President Bill Clinton, looked for a definition that would catch wrongdoers but not give unrestrained power to prosecutors who might bring “ridiculous” cases.

FreedomWorks, Curt Levey, applauded the decision earlier today noting that:

"The job of prosecutors, like other officers in the executive branch, is to objectively enforce the law, not to rewrite or expand the laws to reflect their moral or ideological preferences. The Court's ruling is an important step towards preventing overly zealous or politically motivated prosecutors from criminalizing routine, helpful actions performed for constituents. It is the voters who should decide whether elected officials are conscientious public servants.

James Bopp, Jr., counsel for the Madison Center, is pleased with the decision: 

“The Court rightly recognized the First Amendment chill that would be cast over both constituent and campaign participation if the government can selectively enforce so broad a corruption definition against public officials and candidates associating with voters.  Limiting quid pro quo corruption to exchanges of money or other gifts for official acts ensures the government does not exceed its authority and unconstitutionally silence the speech of its citizens.”

McDonnell was also quick to praise the decision.

Today, a unanimous United States Supreme Court vacated my convictions, and it is a day in which my family and I rejoice and give thanks.

From the outset, I strongly asserted my innocence before God and under the law. I have not, and would not, betray the sacred trust the people of Virginia bestowed upon me during 22 years in elected office.

[. . . ] I am exceptionally grateful to my faithful legal team who zealousy advocated my cause at every step, as well as the authors and signers of the 13 excellent amicus briefs that argued for reversal. 


More and more innocent leaders and organizations are being targeted for expressing their opinions and these attackers relish in the fact that they are working to silence an entire segment of society. The last eight years have seen entire federal organizations turned into partisan attack dogs seeking out any who oppose a certain point of view.  These cases are not about corruption but silencing speech and attacking those who disagree with the political views of the Democrat and DOJ prosecutors.