McDonnell v. United States

Michael Harless Constitutional Law, U. S. Supreme Court

On March 7, 2016, our firm filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell’s challenge to his conviction on federal corruption charges.

Our brief argues that setting and enforcing ethical standards applicable to state and local government officials is not among the enumerated powers vested in Congress.  Rather, such matters belong exclusively to the States and to the People of each State.  This exclusive state authority is protected not only by the Tenth Amendment, but also is secured to the States by the Constitution’s guarantee of a republican form of government.  It is the responsibility of elected State government officials to set the standards that govern communications and relationships between state and local officials and their constituents.  It is not for unelected federal prosecutors to have the power to bring down state and local officials.  If federal prosecutors are allowed to exercise such powers, what State official could be counted upon to do his duty to resist an overreach of federal power.

Link to brief