Vanderbilt Law Review


Rene Augustine

First Page



1990 marks the twentieth anniversary of the passage of RICO, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. Congress created the statute in an effort to combat the infiltration of organized crime into legitimate business enterprises. In recent years, the RICO reform controversy has attracted national attention, spurring scholarly debates and reform measures in Congress.With its increased use both by prosecutors and private plaintiffs,the RICO statute has prompted a host of criticisms. For instance, some critics argue that Congress intended RICO to battle mafia crimes of the Al Capone genre, but that it has been applied in situations far beyond those Congress originally envisioned. Some seek RICO reform because of concerns that the statute may threaten civil liberties and chill free speech. Unhappiness with RICO has led to some uncommon alliances between diverse groups who wish to reform or repeal the statute. In fact, RICO itself has been applied to a wide variety of groups, ranging from anti-choice protesters to Wall Street accounting firms.