Professor Bowman – Kelly v. United States: There is no political exception to fraud

In a symposium written for SCOTUSblog, Professor Frank Bowman writes about Kelly v. United States, a case that came from the scandal known at “Bridgegate.”

William E. Baroni, Jr., deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and Bridget Anne Kelley, an aide to then Governor Chris Christie, conspired to create a major traffic jam in Fort Lee, New Jersey, after Fort Lee’s mayor refused to endorse Christie in his 2013 re-election bid. In 2015, a grand jury indicted them for their roles in the scheme and they were convicted on all counts. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reasoned that the defendants had defrauded the Port Authority of its property by citing a “traffic study” as the purpose of the lane closures rather than their “real reason” of political payback.

Professor Bowman’s concerns about the case are with the U.S. Supreme Court granting certiorari and that the case could become “a vehicle for further unfortunate limitations on the government’s power to prosecute government corruption.”