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Kaycie Alexander | October 10, 2019
Right on Crime signatory Edwin Meese III recently received the Medal of Freedom presented by President Donald Trump for his dedication to public service. This recognition is well-deserved as Meese has long fought for freedom in the United States from his time as President Reagan’s Attorney General, to his service as Counsellor to the President, to his long-time work in criminal justice reform.
Meese consistently returns to the Constitution when determining the validity of laws in our nation, and is no different in regards to criminal law. As Meese continues to fight overcriminalization, he argues that the Constitution only identifies three federal crimes. Proceeding with this argument, Meese argues that when there are more federal laws than anyone can count, the laws become traps for everyday citizens. There should be no reason that people striving to act as law abiding citizens should be incarcerated based on a crime so discrete, they had no idea of its existence.
Additionally, Meese fights for mens rea reform. Meese states that criminal intent is especially important now as laws have gone from “wrong in itself” to “wrong because prohibited.” In his testimony before the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Meese explains that “from its earliest days, criminal law has contained both a moral and a practical element.” He goes on to explain how criminal intent relates to the culpability that ensues thereafter.
While fighting to end overincarceration, Meese never forsakes criminal accountability. He spearheaded the initiative to fight organized crime, and supported a task force on victims of crime. There is a fine line between fighting overcriminalization and forsaking criminal accountability, but just as everyday citizens are kept in line by law enforcement, the government must also be held accountable for overreach.
President Ronald Reagan said “Ed is not only my trusted Counsellor, he is also a person whose life and experience reflect a profound commitment to the law and a consistent dedication to the improvement of our justice system.” President Donald Trump calls Meese “a heroic defender of the American Constitution.”
Ed Meese has been a long-time public servant who has continuously fought for freedom, defended the Constitution, and worked to reform the American judiciary. Right on Crime applauds our signatory Edwin Meese III as the most deserving recipient of the Medal of Freedom.