Lenity and Federal Common Law Crimes

  title={Lenity and Federal Common Law Crimes},
  author={D. Kahan},
  journal={The Supreme Court Review},
  pages={345 - 428}
  • D. Kahan
  • Published 1994
  • Political Science
  • The Supreme Court Review
Federal criminal law is widely believed to be marred by an embarrassing contradiction. It is a basic axiom of federal criminal jurisprudence that a court should adopt the "harsher" of "two rational readings of a criminal statute only when Congress has spoken in clear and definite language."' More than a simple canon of construction, this principle-known as the "rule of lenity"-is considered essential to securing a variety of values of near-constitutional stature. Narrow construction fcriminal… Expand
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