Enron’s Jeffrey Skilling has an appeal scheduled before the Supreme Court Monday and, although the WSJ devotes most of its coverage to whether Skilling was denied a fair trial because of local antipathy for Enron in Houston, I think this will be the more interesting question:
The Supreme Court also is reviewing whether one of the laws Mr. Skilling was convicted of breaking is unconstitutionally vague. The jury found that Mr. Skilling violated a federal law that required him to provide the company and its shareholders with the “intangible right of honest services.”
The government’s use of the honest-services fraud statute has been a matter of increasing debate in legal circles. The Supreme Court seems eager to weigh in on the debate. The justices accepted three cases, including Mr. Skilling’s, for review this term that involved disputes over the use of the honest-services statute.
No one would ever accuse me of being a legal scholar but I think Skilling’s best chance of leaving prison before Bernie lies here: a pretty good argument can be made that the “honest services” statute is unconstitutionally vague in that it fails to give fair warning to an individual that his activity is illegal. Or that’s what I think, anyway. We’ll learn this summer what the Supremes make of it.