The Supreme Court decision today overturning the corruption case against former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell could have far-reaching legal consequences.
Reading his opinion from the bench today, Chief Justice John Roberts said the court has to look past the tawdry nature of the Rolex watch and the designer clothing a wealthy businessman used in an effort to buy power and influence. Instead, Roberts says, justices need to focus on whether McDonnell carried out any official act. In doing so, the court has now drawn a much more narrow definition of what it means for an elected official to conduct an official act.
“It could make it more difficult for the government to bring those kinds of prosecutions in the future."
That’s Carl Tobias at the University of Richmond Law School.
“The court doesn’t necessarily think so because it says more limited interpretation of official act leaves ample room for prosecuting corruption."
White collar defense attorney Michael Levy says the new boundary leaves open some kind of relationship between money and power.
“There is a constitutionally accepted role of money in politics today. And what the court has said is just because there is money and there is politics doesn’t necessarily mean there’s necessarily corruption."
The case will now go back to the appeals court, which will decide whether prosecutors can bring another case against McDonnell under the more narrow reading of official act.