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DUPLICATE FEDERAL CRIMES AND TRIED TO HELP LOCAL AND STATE STREET

POLICE, DETECTIVES, PROSECUTORS AND JUDGES DO A MORE EFFECTIVE JOB.

THE DIVERSION OF RESOURCES, FOCUS AND ATTENTION AWAY FROM LOCAL

EFFORTS AND TOWARD FEDERAL PROSECUTION OF DUPLICATE CRIMES IS ONE

OF THE REASONS WE ARE INEFFECTIVE IN DETERRING CRIME. STATE AND

LOCAL POLICE, PROSECUTORS AND JUDGES, COMPARED TO THEIR FEDERAL

COUNTERPARTS, ARE UNDERPAID AND HAVE TOO MANY CASES PER LAW

ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL TO DEAL WITH.

THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SHOULD GET OUT OF THE BUSINESS OF

ENACTING AND TRYING TO ENFORCE DUPLICATE FEDERAL CRIMES. IT SHOULD

MAKE A POLICY JUDGMENT THAT IT WILL ASSIST LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT

TO DO A BETTER JOB. IF ALL THE FEDERAL AGENTS AND PROSECUTORS AND

FEDERAL DEFENDERS NOW ENFORCING DUPLICATE FEDERAL DRUG AND

FIREARMS LAWS WERE ASSIGNED TO STATE AND LOCAL AGENCIES, AND IF

FEDERAL MONEY WAS MADE AVAILABLE TO UPGRADE STATE ENFORCEMENT,

THE EFFORTWOULD PAY DIVIDENDS. CONCENTRATE FEDERAL CRIMINAL LAW

ENFORCEMENT IN ONLY THE FOLLOWING CORE AREAS:

1. OFFENSES AGAINST THE UNITED STATES ITSELF.

2. MULTI-STATE OR INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL ACTIVITY THAT IS

IMPOSSIBLE FOR A SINGLE STATE OR ITS COURTS TO HANDLE.

3.

CRIMES THAT INVOLVE A MATTER OF OVERRIDING FEDERAL

INTEREST, SUCH AS VIOLATION OF CIVIL RIGHTS BY STATE ACTORS.

4. WIDESPREAD CORRUPTION AT THE STATE AND LOCAL LEVELS.

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SYMBOLICALLY TO LOCAL CRIME BY PASSING NEW LAWS, THEY CAN ACT

SYMBOLICALLY BY PASSING LAWS THAT ASSIST LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT

OFFICIALS. VIOLENCE IN THE SCHOOLS, OR VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN, OR

CARJACKING, OR JUVENILE VIOLENCE ARE PROBLEMS THAT MUST BE SOLVED

AT THE LOCAL LEVEL.

OUR UNDERFUNDED STATE INVESTIGATIVE,

ADJUDICATIVE AND CORRECTIONS SYSTEMS MUST BE IMPROVED. PASSING

MORE LAWS FEDERALIZING CRIME IS NOT A VALID RESPONSE. AID TO LOCAL

NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF STATE LEGISLATURES WASHINGTON OFFICE: 444 NORTH CAPITOL STREET, NW SUITE 515

WASHINGTON, DC 20001 202/624-5400; 202/737-1069 FAX

TESTIMONY OF

JOHN M. DORSO

MAJORITY LEADER, NORTH DAKOTA

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

BEFORE THE

COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS

OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE

REGARDING FEDERALIZATION OF CRIME LAW

May 6, 1999

59-454 99.9

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:

Good morning. My name is John Dorso. I am the Majority Leader of the North Dakota

House of Representatives. I also serve as chairman of the Law and Justice Committee of the

National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Today, I am presenting testimony on behalf

of NCSL, which represents all of America's state legislators.

I want to thank you for holding these hearings, yesterday and today, on issues of

federalism and preemption. There is no more important issue and there is no more difficult issue

than the one of sorting out the appropriate roles of the states on one hand and of the national

government on the other. This is particularly true when it comes to sorting out the appropriate

role of the states and the national government when it comes to the criminal law, the topic of

today's hearing and the focus of my testimony.

But first, let me give you a little background on what I believe and what NCSL believes,

in general, about constitutional federalism. It will provide a context for understanding why we

deplore the current trend in the federalization of the criminal law.

Our touchstone - my touchstone - for analyzing issues of state-federal relations is the

Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which, as you know, provides:

2

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor

prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to

the people.

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who as you may know served as majority leader of the

Arizona Senate, did a good job in her opinion in New York v. United States of explaining with

clarity and concision what the Constitution contemplates in terms of state-federal relations:

States are not mere political subdivisions of the United States. State governments

are neither regional offices nor administrative agencies of the Federal

Government. The positions occupied by state officials appear nowhere on the

Federal Government's most detailed organization chart. The Constitution instead

'leaves to the States a residuary and inviolable sovereignty' reserved explicitly to

the States by the Tenth Amendment.

James Madison made a related point in The Federalist No. 14:

It is to be remembered that the general government is not to be charged with the

whole power of making and administering laws. Its jurisdiction is limited to

certain enumerated objects...

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