Room for Debate: Should Zimmerman Face Federal Charges?

The latest NYT Room for Debate feature asks the question: “Should Zimmerman Face Federal Charges?” My answer (as readers might anticipate given my prior post) is “No.” In my contribution to the debate, I argue that federal prosecution of individuals acquitted in state court should be a rarity, and should really only occur when there is reason to believe there was some sort of systemic failure, such as a racially biased jury, improper actions by government officials, and the like. There are no such allegations here. Rather, some are just disappointed in the jury’s verdict. Such feelings should not be enough to justify federal charges. I would also add that there are serious questions about the Supreme Court’s decisions holding that federal prosecutions in these sorts of instances do not violate the constitutional prohibition on double jeopardy.