FedSoc Blog

SCOTUS to Hear Treaty Power/Federalism Case


by Publius
Posted January 18, 2013, 5:11 PM

Lyle Denniston reports at SCOTUSblog:

The Pennsylvania lovers’ triangle case, Bond v. United States, had been considered by the Justices at their private Conferences eight times since early November.  That kind of repeated appearance can mean that the Court has decided not to hear a case, but some Justices are writing in protest.  It does not have to mean that, though, and it did not this time.   Previously, the Court has granted cases after such prolonged consideration, but that is rare.

The case involves Carol Anne Bond of Lansdale, Pennsylvania, who has been convicted of violating the federal law that carried out a global treaty seeking to ban the spread of chemical weapons.  The Court had ruled in her favor earlier in a preliminary case when the issue was whether Bond was entitled to pursue a constitutional challenge, based on states’ rights, to the poisoning prosecution under the weapons treaty.  The Court allowed her to go forward with that challenge, but then it failed in a lower federal appeals court.  Bond says she accepts criminal responsibility for trying to spread poison where her husband’s paramour would touch it, but protests that she faces much more severe punishment under the treaty-related law than if she were prosecuted under state law for poisoning cases.

In her new petition, her lawyers raised two issues: the first asked the Court to decide whether there are any constitutional limits on Congress’s authority to implement a valid treaty, at least where the enforcement law appears to go beyond the scope of the treaty itself and intrudes on state law enforcement.   The second question at issue urged the Court to interpret the law so that it would not apply to “ordinary poisoning cases,” which the petition argued states can handle.   The case may pose a test of the continuing validity of a major Supreme Court precedent on Congress and treaty enforcement laws: the 1920 decision in Missouri v. Holland.

As FedSocBlog previously reported, this past week Professor Nick Rosenkraz engaged in a fascinating debate with Professor Rick Pildes on the Bond case.


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