"He crossed state lines."

You can hardly find a discussion of the Kyle Rittenhouse trial & its aftermath that does not include this phrase.

I’m genuinely curious about the meaning here. Probably tens of millions of people cross state lines every day - why is it getting such emphasis in this case?

Your thoughts?

The Kyle Rittenhouse trial is symbolic and the warring ideologies are heavily invested in it. The left thinks that worrying about a border in this one instance that it makes an alleged crime even graver. It’s honestly exceedingly silly and disingenuous.

Matt Taibbi recently wrote on Substack about the ludicrousness of that line, because the kid lived a mile outside of Wisconsin. The language is clearly being used to imply premeditation. He was so motivated to kill, he crossed state lines to do it. He was an outsider stirring up trouble. Etc.

ETA: I don’t know what to make of Taibbi yet. I’ve only been following him for a short time, and his commenters are bonkers. But he seems to be interested in serious journalism.

Because crossing state lines can often turn a state crime into a federal one, which can often bring in stronger penalties and things like the FBI up in your shit. For instance - had he taken his toy from Illinois to Wisconsin, he would have been violating Illinois state law regarding his possession (only for hunting or sporting) of the rifle, and thus would have broken federal law. Is it a nothingburger now, since it’s known that he was given the rifle in Wisconsin? Yep. Was it at the beginning? Nope.

It reminds me of opponents of the invasion of Iraq who kept parroting that we invaded a “sovereign” country. As if the word sovereign somehow made it worse.

So, could Rittenhouse plausibly be prosecuted for homicide all over again, but this time by the feds instead of the Wisconsin authorities, and not be protected by double jeopardy?

There are federal crimes he could be conceivably charged with that in no way are precluded by the double jeopardy rule.

It obliterates the notion that he was somehow acting in self-defense. He wasn’t patrolling his own neighborhood - he introduced himself into a situation he didn’t need to be in because he was looking for trouble.

Possibly some civil rights violation?

When the cops who beat the shit out of Rodney King were all acquitted (precipitating massive riots in Los Angeles), they were subsequently prosecuted for some federal crimes. Two of the four were acquitted and the other two were found guilty and did 30 months each.

There is no Federal civil rights claim that could reasonably be brought against Rittenhouse simply because he lives in Illinois. Nor is it relevant to the claim of self-defense. There are also not any Federal crimes he can be charged with related to his travel to Wisconsin.

That’s a nice 0 for 3 by @Senegoid , @Smapti and @crowmanyclouds. Always welcome to try again next time, though.

Granted, I didn’t mean to imply that crossing state lines had anything to do with it. The Rodney King incident didn’t involve crossing state lines at all. If it’s possible that Rittenhouse can be federally charged with violating anybody’s civil rights, or anything else, that doesn’t have to involve crossing state lines.

ETA: But if he is to be charged for some federal crimes, it would have to be some crime other than homicide, which isn’t a federal crime in most cases.

A: I guess the word “conceivably” means nothing?
2: I never mentioned “because he lives in Illinois” or “his travel to Wisconsin” so, umm, how did I get on your scorecard?

That isn’t a logical conclusion. It sounds like victim blaming. In the United States people are free to travel and are free to be in public spaces. Much like one shouldn’t encourage a Heckler’s Veto to shut down public spaces for speech we shouldn’t encourage a rampaging mob’s veto to shut down public spaces to have a business or even walk.

What civil rights were violated? The civil right to attack someone during a riot? I’m not sure that’s a civil right yet.

Isn’t it some kind of civil right violation, depending on the totality of circumstances, to kill someone? IANAL, so I’m just WAGging here. The Federal rules may be different than State rules. I think that’s what they got the cops for who beat up Rodney King. Maybe it’s only a civil rights violation when cops do it? @Martin_Hyde can you help us out with some knowledgeable information here?

Or veto the results of an election? Why do you always leave that one off???

Public spaces such as the US Capitol, for instance?

I’m not certain, but IIRC, one of the issues there was the police acting ‘Under the Color of Law Authority’.

As crowmanyclouds suggests, it’s a federal offence for someone acting under color of law to deprive a person of civil rights:

It’s the fact that the people assaulting Rodney King were police officers that made them liable under this section. An assault by private citizens wouldn’t have been a federal offence under this section.


I’ve seen a number of elements listed for determining whether self-defense applies; I don’t recall seeing a helpful note to the effect that oh, hey, it’s no longer possible once someone has crossed a state line. Since you’re the one making a claim, it’d sure be super if you could, uh, show us where you think you saw that.