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May 29, 2024

U.S. Supreme Court to hear major Public Corruption case tomorrow (Bridgegate) –

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On January 13, 2020

U.S. (ECWd) –

SCOTUS is hearing a major public corruption case, aka “Bridgegate” on Tuesday, January 14, 2020 which could impact future public corruptions cases nationwide, including those in Illinois.

This case appears to center around a public official’s concealment of a political act (a stated public policy decision), and the “true” undisclosed motive behind the decision, even when the decision itself was otherwise within the public official’s authority to make.

The question presented to the Supreme Court is this:

Does a public official “defraud” the government of its property by advancing a “public policy reason” for an official decision that is not her subjective “real reason” for making the decision?

The following are taken directly from the Petitioner’s Writ, which can be read in its entirety here or below:

  • This prosecution arose out of the so-called “Bridgegate” affair, in which senior political officials at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey reallocated two traffic lanes over the George Washington Bridge in a way that increased traffic in the town of Fort Lee—while decreasing it elsewhere.
  • The prosecution’s core allegation was that the Port Authority’s deputy executive director (Bill Baroni) and an aide to New Jersey’s Governor (Bridget Kelly) ordered the change to punish Fort Lee’s mayor for not endorsing the Governor’s reelection. That political motive drove their actions, prosecutors argued, rather than “the best interest of the people of New Jersey.” JA.886.
  • The Third Circuit affirmed the convictions of those officials under the statutes prohibiting wire fraud and fraud from federally funded programs. […] by citing a traffic study as the reason for the realignment, despite their “true purpose” being political payback. That is to say, the “fraud” here—and the basis for seven convictions under two federal criminal statutes—was the concealment of political motives for an otherwise legitimate official act. All that separates a routine decision by a public official from a federal felony, per the opinion below, is a jury finding that her public policy justification for the decision was not really and
    truly her subjective reason for making it.

The Writ is an interesting read, and we suggest reading the entire document.

You can access these docs and more on the SCOTUS website (here) and click on January 14, 2020, then click on Kelly v. United States (18-1059).

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  • Dave
    Posted at 12:15h, 13 January Reply

    State govt acts are to for welfare of the people. That corrupt act certainly doesn’t qualify as being for the welfare of the people. This should be an open and shut case. I know there won’t be a punitive punishment but there should be. Corruption shouldn’t pay, not even in NJ & NY

    • Eric Pratt
      Posted at 14:16h, 13 January Reply

      This decision is huge. How many times has anyone showed up with their time, talent and resources only to discover there was an agenda? An agenda which is at odds with the stated purpose for an action? I have punched people for lying to me and wasting my time. Again, this is huge. Stated plain and clear. I agree, should be open and shut.

  • A. Lincoln
    Posted at 13:07h, 13 January Reply

    What’s really great is you can listen (no cameras allowed in SC) to the oral arguments here:

    Scroll down to the bottom left and under US Federal Law click on Supreme Court. Then scroll down, click on Recent Decisions. Select the case to listen to and then click on audio media and then the speaker icon. Cases are usually available for listening 5-7 days after oral arguments are heard.

    This sure beats wasting time watching TV. This is living history of this great country.

    Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the court.

  • A. Lincoln
    Posted at 13:31h, 17 January Reply

    Here is the link to listen to the oral arguments:

    audio link:

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