First, there's no such thing as a "judicial standard" in the sense that they mean. Courts exist to interpret and decide when to apply laws that are written by a legislative body, occasionally referring to pre-existing case law to assist in interpreting the statute to retain consistency in how they rule. There's no such thing as a "judicial standard" which governs how courts decide outside of case law or statutory law.
Can't Aff just make a new Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure instituting a "mistake of law is an excuse" standard? SCOTUS can just modify the FRCP to mandate it. Meaning the courts could do it, not Congress.
Four broad things:
1. This links straight into a huge judicial activism DA. No way this is in the Court's purview.
2. Completely 100% dies to the (nontopical) counterplan discussed earlier (just make Congress to do it). Competes by judicial activism DA, gets all aff advantages.
3. The FRCPs have nothing even remotely close to a mens rea requirement. Yeah, the Court *could* add this to the FRCPs, but there's not one criminal lawyer who wouldn't go "huh? how does that make sense?"
4. Realism. SCOTUS would never do this. Ever. The test for determining if someone has committed a crime is always from statutory law. If there's an egregious miscarriage of justice, the court either rules it unconstitutional or just says "this sucks, but you're guilty. hey lege, draft a better law next time."
Here's an example of a criminal statute.
The court system exists to decide how to apply the laws the legislature writes. A case should be considered topical if the affirmative changes how the courts apply the laws that already exist. A case should not be considered topical if the affirmative changes the laws themselves because the case wouldn't affect how courts apply laws, it affects what laws the court applies.
I don't really agree with this, because Aff isn't really changing what laws are applied. They're changing HOW laws are applied, which does seem to be a procedural court reform. Maybe I'm missing something though.
Sec. 42.14. ILLUMINATION OF AIRCRAFT BY INTENSE LIGHT.
(a) A person commits an offense if:
(1) the person intentionally directs a light from a laser pointer or other light source at an aircraft; and
(2) the light has an intensity sufficient to impair the operator's ability to control the aircraft.
(b) It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under this section that the actor was using the light to send an emergency distress signal.
(c) An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor unless the intensity of the
light impairs the operator's ability to control the aircraft, in which event the offense is a Class A misdemeanor.
This is the framework for all criminal statutes. It defines the offense based on conditions which must be met, states any affirmative defenses, and defines it as one of a certain category of offenses. I suggest that cases which change those conditions should not be topical.
Any action that Congress takes basically just adds in the "intentionally" to each statute--it's changing the set requirements which the prosecutor must prove to win the conviction. They're not changing how the same
laws are applied, they're changing the laws
which are applied.