You Mean Congress Has Trouble Writing Clearly?

I thought this was kind of funny, from the 9-0 Supreme Court decision to throw out the Arthur Anderson Obstruction of Justice conviction (related to Enron). Note the last line, emphasis added:

"[The U.S. Code] punishes not just 'corruptly
persuading' another, but 'knowingly ... corruptly persuading' another.
The Government suggests that 'knowingly' does not modify 'corruptly
persuades,' but that is not how the statute most naturally reads. "¦ The
Government suggests that it is 'questionable whether Congress would
employ such an inelegant formulation as "knowingly ... corruptly
persuades." ' "¦ Long experience has not taught us to share the
Government's doubts on this score, and we must simply interpret the
statute as written."

So the government's argument was based in part on the assumption that Congress would never write poorly or inelegantly, and the Supreme Court responded by saying - "Hah!"

  • You ought to read parts of the FACT Act. It's incredibly poorly written.