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LOCK HER UP! LOCK HIM UP! THEY COULD LOCK YOU UP

Ask God to redeem the political debates in this country and to protect us all from spurious accusations of criminal wrongdoing.

“I said to myself, “God will bring into judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time to judge every deed.” (Eccl 3:17)

“If you have ever found yourself looking at a “§” symbol, chances are you were reading a legal brief—or your cat had just walked across the keyboard. But recently that symbol has appeared in countless tweets, news articles and cable-news chyrons. Why? Millions of Americans can’t wait to find out what crime will finally bring down Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and a host of other unpopular political figures.

Will it be obstruction of justice under 18 U.S.C. § 1503, § 1505 or § 1512? What about mishandling classified information under 18 U.S.C. § 1924? Could it be treason under 18 U.S.C. § 2381? If all else fails, there’s always lying to the feds—18 U.S.C. § 1001.

Even the 2016 presidential debates devolved into something that sounded a lot like:

“You’re the criminal.”

“No, you’re the criminal.”

“No, you are, and I’ll put you in prison when I’m president.”

The calls for prosecution have grown ever more obscure and dangerous. Didn’t Sarah Huckabee Sanders commit a crime when she said Jemele Hill’s tweets about Trump were a “fireable offense”? Shouldn’t Barack Obama be charged under the Logan Act for meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping after Mr. Trump took office? After all, each offense has its own “§” in Title 18 of the U.S. Code. Dusting off those statutes and using them might even feel good.

But does that feeling come from a sincere desire for justice, or is it something else? And what if you are the criminal?

In fact, you probably are. There are thousands of federal statutes and hundreds of thousands of regulations with criminal penalties….

For all the focus on the potential crimes of Trump, can a sitting president even be charged? Some very smart lawyers say no…. And many people doubt that Mrs. Clinton was seriously investigated at all… Yes, crimes that actually threaten national security, the administration of justice, or democracy itself are qualitatively different from countless other federal offenses.

Yes, crimes that actually threaten national security, the administration of justice, or democracy itself are qualitatively different from countless other federal offenses. They are also likelier to be prioritized by prosecutors than the sillier-sounding violations. But even so, Americans still should be careful about getting too comfortable urging prosecution when almost anyone can be prosecuted.

All this makes for good TV. It may make for excellent TV if the president or more people close to him are indicted. But I fear Americans are growing used to cheering criminal sanctions as an expedient tool for dispatching political enemies. Instead they should embrace criminal law’s appropriate use: a last resort for punishing real, harmful wrongs.”  (Excerpts from Mike Chase’s article in The Wall Street Journal)

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