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The Federalization of Criminal Law

As the second speaker in the Athenaeum's annual Constitution Day lecture series, Judge Ehrlich will address an issue that has been perceived as a threat to the U.S. constitutional system: the increasing federalization of criminal law and what that encroachment means for federalism generally and the historical principles of dual sovereignty. The fundamental view that local crime is a matter for the states to address has been strained in practice in recent years. Congressional activity making essentially local conduct a federal crime has accelerated greatly, notably in areas in which existing state law already criminalizes the same conduct. Judge Ehrlich served on the recent American Bar Association's Task Force on "The Federalization of Criminal Law" that documented this trend (and the reasons for it) and that provided specific recommendations to curb it.

Since 1989, Ehrlich has served as a judge of the Arizona Court of Appeals. After receiving her B.A. from Wellesley College, she worked as a research analyst in the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice reviewing cases of alleged racial discrimination in target companies. After receiving her J.D. from Arizona State University College of Law, she served as a Law Clerk for Chief Justice Jack D. H. Hay of the Arizona Supreme Court. From 1978-80 she was an attorney with the Appellate Section, Civil Division, U. S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., where she handled cases in every federal circuit. From 1981-89, she was an Assistant United States Attorney, Chief of Appellate Section, District of Arizona.