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Michigan Law Review: The Pathological Politics of Criminal Law

May 1, 2011

100 Michigan Law Review 2001-2002.

handle is hein.journals/mlr100 and id is 525 raw text is:

THE PATHOLOGICAL POLITICS

OF CRIMINAL LAW

William J. Stuntz*

INTRO D U CTIO N ........................................................................................ 506
I. CRIMINAL LAW'S BREADTH ....................................................... 512
A .  Breadth and  D epth ................................................................ 512
B.   The Consequences of Breadth and Depth ........................... 519
1I. THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF CRIME DEFINITION ................. 523
A. Surface Politics and Deep Politics ....................................... 523
B.  Lawmakers' Incentives ......................................................... 529
1. L egislators ........................................................................ 529
2. Prosecutors (and the Police) .......................................... 533
3. Appellate Judges .............................................................. 540
4. A Special Case: Federal Prosecutors and Congress .... 542
C.  Lawmakers' Relationships ................................................... 546
1. Legislators and Prosecutors ........................................... 546
a. The Political Imbalance ........................................... 547
b.  A gency C osts ............................................................. 549
c.  Interest G roups ......................................................... 552
2. Legislators and Judges .................................................... 557
a. Vagueness Doctrine ................................................. 559
b.  The R ule of Lenity ................................................... 561
3. Prosecutors and Judges ................................................... 565
D.  The Consequences of Criminal Law's Breadth
(R ep rise) ................................................................................. 569
1. Sorting .............................................................................. 569
2. Crim inalizing Vice .......................................................... 572
E.   Conclusion: Legislated Crimes and Common Law
C rim es  .................................................................................... 576
III. SO LU TIO N S  .................................................................................... 579
A . A bolishing D iscretion  ........................................................... 579
B. Abolishing Legislative Supremacy ...................................... 582

* Professor, Harvard Law School. I thank a long list of colleagues and friends for help-
ful comments: Barbara Armacost, Sam Bagenstos, John Coates, Anne Coughlin, Philip
Frickey, Elizabeth Garrett, John Jeffries, Michael Klarman, Daryl Levinson, Debra
Livingston, Elizabeth Magill, Dan Meltzer, Mark Ramseyer, Dan Richman, Jim Ryan,
Margo Schlanger, Stephen Schulhofer, Elizabeth Scott, Mike Seidman, and Carol Steiker. I
also received many useful comments, for which I am grateful, from participants in work-
shops at the Boston University, University of California at Berkeley, Harvard, University of
Michigan, Stanford, and University of Virginia Law Schools. Last but not least, I thank Dave
Barker, Brent Bickley, Jeff Ernst, Matt Iverson, and Gina Paik for excellent research assis-
tance.

505

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3 Comments
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  2. I too believe so, perfectly composed post!

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