Changing planes in U.S.? II

While I oppose laws banning online gambling as ludicrous public policy in a world with government-run lotteries that return sixty cents on the dollar, I don’t see the controversy (also Hurt) over arresting someone indicted for breaking those laws when they step foot on US soil. If Osama bin Laden were foolish enough to take a commercial flight from Karachi to Caracas that changed planes in Dallas, federales could surely arrest him while he was waiting in line at the Orange Julius. Airports don’t convey some sort of diplomatic immunity.

That said, as a public policy matter, America should perhaps be less inclined to assert jurisdiction for victimless Internet crimes committed over international borders, lest we lose the ability to defend the free speech rights of American citizens to discuss issues of religion or politics barred in other countries. And in conjunction with the NatWest Three extraditions (ably discussed by Kirkendall), one fears a European perception of the US as a nationwide judicial hellhole unsuitable for business dealings, much the same way an American might view doing business in Russia. Already, international companies are choosing to raise capital in international financial markets outside the US where once they went to New York, a problem discussed by Larry Ribstein and Henry Butler in a recent AEI book on Sarbanes-Oxley.

Separately, with respect to the new federal interest in focusing scarce resources on gambling, one wonders if Rep. Jefferson is hoping that he shredded his March Madness pool entry before the FBI searched his office. And see also Mankiw v. Passey (via Taylor).

One Comment

  • I don’t think people realize what a chilling effect this could have on the free speech we talk for granted.

    Here is an example…

    An American religious leader makes the usual right-wing Christian condemnation of gays and lesbians and it’s caught on video. If that video is broadcast by a US television station and viewed by even one Canadian, or the video is posted on the internet and downloaded by a single person in Canada, that religious leader could be arrested, convicted and even imprisoned under Canada’s restrictive hate speech laws if he/she crossed into Canada or even visits a country having an extradition treaty with Canada.

    The US government should respect the laws of foreign governments and be more concerned with crimes that actually occur within its boarders.