Terre Haute, Indiana – On Friday, the James Madison Center filed a friend of the court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of former Mayor James Snyder of Portage, Indiana, to overturn his conviction for normal, everyday bidding practices. The federal government convicted Mayor Snyder of corruption without proving an actual quid pro quo that is required to show genuine corruption under a law. This would make it illegal to do business with other people who you know or associate with who might also bid for municipal contracts.
The federal Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals erroneously upheld the government's version of the law and would make millions of people potential criminals at the state and local level. Imagine a public spirited citizen who writes a quick note on a donation to a state candidate: “Thanks for supporting our troops!” Under the government's version of the law, this “gratuity” would be a crime, even though there was no illegal, corrupt bargain.
The James Madison Center for Free Speech argues that, under the First Amendment, Americans are guaranteed free speech and association. However, under the government's wrong-headed interpretation of the law, the federal government would take over law enforcement responsibilities from the state and local level and would criminalize normal business practices and associations. Now, it is up to the Supreme Court to protect freedom of speech and freedom of association for millions of Americans by overturning Mayor Snyder's conviction.
“The federal government should not be able to convict people for their Constitutionally protected speech and association,” stated James Bopp, Jr., lead counsel for James Madison Center for Free Speech. “Decades of First Amendment, Due Process, and federalism cases support overturning Mayor Snyder's conviction.”
Read amicus brief here.