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2004-2005 Cato Sup. Ct. Rev. 187 (2004-2005)
The Significant Meaninglessness of Arthur Andersen LLP v. United States

handle is hein.journals/catoscrev4 and id is 201 raw text is: The Significant Meaninglessness of
Arthur Andersen LLP v. United States
John Hasnas*
Although I hate to begin a serious article on an important Supreme
Court case this way, the Court's recent decision in Arthur Andersen
LLP v. United States' reminds me of nothing so much as the old
Woody Allen line that [slex without love is an empty experience
... but as empty experiences go, it's one of the best.2 This is because,
for all practical purposes, Andersen is a meaningless decision, but
as meaningless decisions go, it's one of the most significant. The
Supreme Court's reversal of Andersen's conviction cannot revive
the now-defunct firm, and the obstruction of justice statute that
the Court is interpreting3 has, in all ways relevant to Andersen's
conviction, been superseded by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.1
And yet, by interpreting the language of the statute to require con-
sciousness of wrongdoing, the Court may be indicating an important
change of direction in the way it deals with the federal law of white
collar crime. If so, Andersen may turn out to be a very important
meaningless decision.
I. The Decision
In 2001, Arthur Andersen provided accounting, auditing, and
consulting services to Enron Corporation, Andersen's largest single
*Associate Professor of Business, McDonough School of Business, Georgetown
University; J.D. & Ph.D. in Philosophy, Duke University; LL.M in Legal Education,
Temple University. The author wishes to thank Ann C. Tunstall of SciLucent, LLC,
for her exceedingly helpful comments on a draft of this article and Annette Hasnas
of the Montessori School of Northern Virginia for explaining how the apparently
meaningless can carry great significance.
1125 S. Ct. 2129 (2005).
2Love and Death (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer 1975).
318 U.S.C. § 1512(b).
'See 18 U.S.C. § 1519 (prohibiting the destruction, alteration, or falsification of


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