Chief Justice’s Report Lauds Committee’s efforts on Controlling the Federalization of Crimes

WASHINGTON – In his 1999 Year End Report on the Judiciary, Chief Justice William Rehnquist has lauded Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Fred Thompson (R-TN) for holding hearings last year on the federalization of crimes.

“…I commend the Senate Government Affairs Committee and its Chair, Senator Fred Thompson, for holding hearings on May 6, 1999, on the issue of controlling the federalization of crimes that are better left to state laws and courts to handle,” Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote.

“Eliminating unwarranted federalization of crime will help control growth in federal courts and preserve them as courts of limited jurisdiction,” Chief Justice Rehnquist added. In this report, Rehnquist noted the Governmental Affairs hearings were held in response to issues he raised in last year?s report regarding the growing caseload in the federal Judiciary.

Senator Thompson said, “While it may be politically appealing to federalize crime, Congress should think carefully about the consequences before it legislates in areas traditionally handled by the States. We are moving toward two redundant and overlapping sets of criminal laws — State and Federal — often with different penalties for the same conduct. There is broad agreement across the criminal justice system that federalizing crime is not only counter to the Founding Fathers’ careful constitutional design, but also has harmful implications for crime control.”

Senator Thompson, author of the “Federalism Accountability Act of 1999,” S. 1214, strongly believes that each level of government is best suited to do certain things. Further, he believes that government closest to the people, best serves the people. This is the principle on which federalism rests and Chairman Thompson has made federalism a high priority of the Governmental Affairs Committee. In 1999, the Committee held three hearings on federalism. In 1998, Thompson helped block a proposed Executive Order on Federalism that was opposed by state and local officials.

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