I have this thing with my husband about how he does the dishes. He never pre-washes before loading the dishwasher. It doesn’t matter how many times we end up with bits of food on our supposedly clean dishes. He won’t change. It’s the principle of the thing with him. Anyway, I give him hell about his failure to pre-wash, and yesterday he told me not to “make a federal case out of it.” That got me thinking. I was wondering how I might go about making a federal case out of this. What are my options?
I’m afraid federal crimes in the United States are very particular. The federal government has a limited power to pass criminal laws, as that kind of legislation was generally delegated to the states in the U.S. Constitution. Furthermore, even nominally “federal crimes” will only be prosecuted on the federal level if the offense is not covered by the relevant state’s criminal law or if it occurred outside of a particular jurisdiction – interstate mail fraud being a commonly cited example. If you’d like to bust your husband for a federal crime, you’ll have to wait until he commits an aircraft hijacking, kidnapping, bank robbery, child pornography, obscenity, tax evasion, counterfeiting, espionage, wiretapping, art theft, or presidential assassination. He doesn’t even need to have allegedly commited the crime himself. He could be an accomplice. If, by what I’m assuming is an outside chance, your husband finds himself charged with such a crime, he’ll need an experienced federal crimes attorney, because like I say it’s particular.
Now, I’m a lawyer, not a life coach, but if I may be so bold, I might suggest taking over dishwasher-loading duties yourself and assigning another task to your defiant husband. Is he competent enough to do anything else? Could he be trusted to fold the laundry, for example? If not, what I’d do – and this is just me – what I’d do is take over dishwasher duties anyway and then just use the imbalance of chores as a way to shame him whenever it was advantageous to me. It might go like this: it’s movie night and the two of you are browsing your streaming service. He likes the look of some superhero garbage, and so he starts making his case. “It looks really dark, really psychologically complex,” he might say. Or he says, “Oh, I’ve got see if they include all the meaningless minutiae of my favorite version of this character’s ever-changing origin story.” And you say, very simply, firmly, “I load that dang dishwasher every night. We’re watching Jiro Dreams of Sushi.” He might grumble about it, but you’ll get your way, believe me. As a possible side benefit, having to sit through your movie choices week after week might be enough to get him to eventually reconsider his protest against the reality of pre-washing.