In the May issue, I asked, “Do We Want a Federal Police Force?” (Views). I pointed out that Congress is passing too many laws that duplicate traditional state criminal laws. The problem with this redundancy is that federal enforcement, like that at Waco and Ruby Ridge, is usually irresponsible.
The latest example of this is the “D.C. Madam” case.
Everyone should agree that stamping out prostitution in our nation’s capital is a task so daunting that Savonarola—the 15th century Dominican friar who tried to clean up Florence—would probably pass it by. Then why, on March 1, 2007, did the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia indict Deborah Jeane Palfrey, who quickly became known as the “D.C. Madam”? The indictment charged that she had employed more than 100 women from 1993 to 2006, “for the purpose of engaging in prostitution activity with male clients, including sexual intercourse and oral sex in exchange for money.” The indictment threw in money-laundering and racketeering, but those charges rested on the illegality of prostitution.
In his closing argument, Daniel Butler, the federal prosecutor, asked the jury, “When a man agrees to pay $250 for 90 minutes with a woman, what do most men expect in that time? In that context, it’s pretty clear most men want sex.” No doubt they...