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Infiltrating NAMBLA

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On Wednesday, a panel of the Ninth Circuit decided United States v. Mayer, No. 06-50481, rejecting a claim that the government had acted improperly by infiltrating the National Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA). The court held that such an investigation requires good faith, which is a legitimate law enforcement purpose. This decision is welcome news, as there are many organizations today that have a facade of legitimate advocacy, behind which are conspiracies to commit or facilitate major crimes.

The panel was Judges Hall, O'Scannlain, and Callahan, which is about the most favorable for the prosecution that you can get in the Ninth. I'm sure there will be a petition for rehearing en banc, and there is a decent chance of it being granted.

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Something tells me that, no matter what the personal angst it may cause certain judges, even the the Ninth won't muster up the temerity to overturn this one. I don't think the contrary position would get a single vote on the Supreme Court.

Having read the opinion, I don't see what the handwringing about the government plant here. Clearly, this is not an entrapment case. And, more importantly, I just don't see where the Constitution creates any issues here. The government has informers who lie about their informer status and gain or maintain membership in a targeted group, and I just don't see a constitutional difference between an "independent contractor" (for lack of a better term for a paid informant) and an employee of the government.

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