On Jan. 5, President Barack Obama published in the Harvard Law Review a 56-page commentary expressing his personal views on criminal law and justice, entitled “The President’s Role in Advancing Criminal Justice Reform.”

One glaring omission stands out: The article all but forgets the crucial need for mens rea (latin for “guilty mind”) reform to reverse the erosion of due process in federal criminal law. Thus, the commentary ignores the erosion of due process protections that are supposed to be afforded to honest Americans when it comes to enforcing criminal laws.

Mens rea is the fundamental principle that distinguishes between an accident and a crime.

In his expansive commentary, Obama briefly mentions that there are “important structural and prudential constraints on how the president can directly influence criminal enforcement.” But it omits mens rea as one constraint on the executive power to enforce the criminal law.

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