June 9, 2008 12:05PM

Civil Liberties and Business

The Washington Legal Foundation has just published a Special Report: Federal Erosion of Business Civil Liberties (pdf). Looks like a comprehensive analysis of the ongoing trend at the federal level to criminalize ordinary business activity. 

Check out this admission from the SEC’s Paul Atkins: “What is astonishing is that the attorney‐​client privilege, one of the foundational rights on which rests Anglo‐​American legal culture … should now be under siege. The two federal agencies that have been most vigorous in seeking waiver of the attorney‐​client privilege have been the Department of Justice and — unfortunately, I must say — the Securities and Exchange Commission.” Well, admitting the problem is the first step toward addressing the problem. But notice the way he makes his agency appear uncontrollable. It’s a fairly common tactic here in the capital. Senators talk about “runaway spending” as if the federal budget was on some sort of auto‐​pilot. And then they name highways and buildings after themselves to memorialize their “public service” and “leadership.”

When the status quo becomes politically unacceptable, Congress ought to abolish corporate welfare and restore the attorney‐​client privilege and other legal safeguards.

Related Cato work here and here.