Vanderbilt Law Review

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RICO reform has been one of the most time-consuming and difficult issues in the 101st Congress. The House Subcommittee on Crime has held three full-day hearings on RICO reform, listening to testimony from a vast array of witnesses on both sides of the reform issue, and several in the middle. From a personal perspective, hardly a day has passed in the last nine months that I have not had a meeting, a discussion with a House colleague, or a staff session on the subject of RICO reform.At the outset I should mention that I do not have a magic "silver bullet" for this extremely complicated statute and the numerous controversies it has engendered. RICO contains more than forty federal felonies as predicate offenses, and nine generic state statutes. The large number of predicate offenses, combined with such nebulous terms as"enterprise," and "pattern of racketeering activity," leaves many ob-servers wondering whether RICO eventually will sustain a constitutional attack. Indeed, Justice Antonin Scalia virtually asked for such a challenge in his recent concurring opinion in "H.J. Inc. v. Northwestern Bell Telephone Co.", when he stated:

"No constitutional challenge to this law has been raised in the present case, and so that issue is not before us. That the highest Court in the land has been unable to derive from this statute anything more than today's meager guidance bodes ill for the day when that challenge is presented."

Combined with this invitation, there is a long list of prominent organizations that have petitioned Congress to amend civil RICO. They include: The American Bar Association, National Association of Manufacturers, American Civil Liberties Union, United States Chamber of Commerce, AFL-CIO, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Securities Industry Association, American Bankers Association, Independent Bankers Association of America, Future Industries Association, American Council of Life Insurance, Credit Union National Association, Grocery Manufacturers of America, National Automobile Dealers Association, State Farm Insurance Companies, Alliance of American Insurers, and The American Financial Services Association. At the same time, there is impressive opposition to drastic change in civil RICO. This opposition includes such organizations as: The Public Citizen-Congress Watch, The United States Public Interest Research Group, National Association of Attorneys' General, National District Attorneys Association, National Association of Insurance Commissioners, and The North American Securities Administration Association.Even these organizations, however, concede that some changes may be appropriate.

During my presentation I will outline my views of RICO; offer some specific comments on the mail and wire fraud predicates and the role they play in the problems experienced with RICO, on both the criminal and civil sides; make some general observations about the statute; and comment on the status of the reform efforts before Congress. At the end of my presentation I will outline my thoughts on resolving some of the existing problems, as well as my commitment to pursue answers to future problems.