I Was Wrong About Spitzer (But We Should Repeal the Mann Act)

When I said Elliot Spitzer shouldn’t resign as governor I was wrong. His use of public accounts, efforts to cover up his activities, his violation of a federal law, and his scummy behavior all present pretty good and legitimate grounds for his impeachment. To save New York’s citizens the trouble, he should step down soon.

But, just as Spitzer should go, one of the laws he appears to have violated (the Mann Act) also needs to go. The law, written in 1910, makes it illegal to transport a prostitute across state lines. Given that we have extensive federal laws to stop human trafficking — and that most human trafficking victims come from outside of the United States — the Mann Act has very little likely impact on people forced into prostitution by traffickers. Instead, it federalizes something (visiting a prostitute) that, if it should be a crime at all, clearly seems like a state and local matter rather than a federal one.