The media is fond of calling out our “do-nothing Congress.” Indeed, our national lawmakers’ last term was one of the least productive in history.
But maybe that’s not such a bad thing.
According to author John Whitehead, Congress has created, on average, 50 new crimes per year for the past decade. Not 50 new laws. Fifty new crimes.
The trend is headed in the wrong direction. In just the five years from 2008 until 2013, according to the Congressional Research Service, Congress created 439 new criminal offenses. That made for a grand total of 4,889 federal crimes. And that’s in addition to the growing number of state and local crimes for which Americans can be prosecuted.
To make matters worse, many of these federal laws lack any mens rea, or “guilty mind,” requirement. That means you can be prosecuted even without criminal intent. Didn’t mean to break the law? Tough luck.