United States v. O’Donnell
Pierce O’Donnell was charged with a criminal violation of federal campaign finance laws. The District Court granted his motion to dismiss most of the Indictment on the grounds that his conduct was not prohibited by the plain language of the statute under which he was charged. The Justice Department appealed to the 9th Circuit supported by several amici arguing that the statute should nevertheless be held to prohibit his conduct based on public policy arguments. On November 16, the ACRU filed a brief amicus curiae in support of O’Donnell arguing that stretching criminal statutes beyond their plain terms to railroad defendants into prison terms based on policy arguments would violate the basic rule of law and threaten the basic liberty of American citizens, as in authoritarian regimes.