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Venezuela’s President Maduro Indicted!

Crime Fighting or Legal Imperialism?

I can tell you this early afternoon that I was wondering if the President or others had read the blog; I started to write an article several months ago when this impasse started saying in effect if John Bolton and President Trump played the law card they might get Maduro out of power voluntarily.

I actually abandoned that post, not because it might well work, but it was too much power. (Was somebody listening?) There is a temptation to legal imperialism – the use of US law extraterritorially to punish persons outside the US for acts that did not occur in the US. That is a huge criticism of the Magnitsky series of sanctions regimes and I have helped make it (although my primary criticism was sanctions on individuals and corporations without trial – Magnitsky is a bill of attainder condemned by the Constitution).

It is true that outside the US acts can be prosecuted in the US under a conspiracy or maybe attempt theory but there is still a tie-in to some sort of action (or action to be taken) within the US. That goes for drugs too. Can be trafficking in drugs outside the US and if the ultimate destination of the drugs IS the US, it is indictable.

But there needs to be a statutory or a judge-made bar to extraterritorial use of US laws outside the US in general terms with specific exceptions such as such a tie-in to the United States’ interests – protect those interests or our soldiers or diplomats – as to be proper.

I do hope the indictments bring to an end the terrible suffering of the Venezuelan people. But we need to be very chary about using our law to drive foreign leaders from power. Let’s avoid legal imperialism.

About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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