A long anticipated story in this morning’s Wall Street Journal regarding the federal government’s use of a “false statements” criminal statute noted the plight of a Washington Legal Foundation client, Cory King (story here, subscription required). A petition is currently pending before the U.S. Supreme Court asking the Justices to review a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruling that upheld guilty verdicts under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act and 18 U.S.C. § 1001, the so-called “false statements” law. As the Journal article states:
Critics across the political spectrum argue that 1001, a widely used statute in the federal criminal code, is open to abuse. It is charged hundreds of times a year, according to court records and interviews with lawyers and legal scholars.”
WLF’s petition urging a reversal of Mr. King’s conviction argues that the federal false statements statute does not apply because his statement about where a valve on his Idaho farm sent water was made to a state agricultural official with no connection to the U.S. government. In late February, SCOTUSblog featured WLF’s petition on Mr. King’s behalf as a “Petition of the Day,” a feature the blog’s experts use to highlight cases with a better than average chance of being granted review.