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United States v. Kebodeaux

United States v. Kebodeaux

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Published by Cato Institute
Last year’s partial victory in NFIB v. Sebelius (the Obamacare case) is already being applied to new cases reaching the Supreme Court. Recall that, in that case, the Court accepted our argument that the government cannot use the Commerce and Necessary and Proper Clauses to compel someone to purchase health insurance. The Court held that allowing Congress to compel commerce into existence would be an improper use of a great and limitless power. In United States v. Kebodeaux, the Supreme Court will once again address an assertion of power that, if upheld, could give Congress nearly limitless power. In 1999, Anthony Kebodeaux was sentenced to three years in prison for statutory rape. He served his time, was freed from any post-release parole or probation requirements, and ended his relationship with the federal government in the matter of criminal law. Years later, when Kebodeaux moved intrastate from San Antonio, Texas to El Paso, Texas, he failed to update his change of address within the three-day period as required by the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) of 2006. Even though Kebodeaux was unconditionally released from custody before SORNA was enacted, he was sentenced to one year in federal prison. The Fifth Circuit overturned his conviction en banc, meaning that every judge on the Fifth Circuit heard the case rather than the traditional three-judge panel. They found the registration requirement unconstitutional because Congress lacked jurisdiction over Kebodeaux after they unconditionally released him from custody. The government's arguments to the contrary, the court held, would permit not just "unending criminal authority" over Kebodeaux but unending authority over every American who was once in federal jurisdiction, which is, of course, every American.
Last year’s partial victory in NFIB v. Sebelius (the Obamacare case) is already being applied to new cases reaching the Supreme Court. Recall that, in that case, the Court accepted our argument that the government cannot use the Commerce and Necessary and Proper Clauses to compel someone to purchase health insurance. The Court held that allowing Congress to compel commerce into existence would be an improper use of a great and limitless power. In United States v. Kebodeaux, the Supreme Court will once again address an assertion of power that, if upheld, could give Congress nearly limitless power. In 1999, Anthony Kebodeaux was sentenced to three years in prison for statutory rape. He served his time, was freed from any post-release parole or probation requirements, and ended his relationship with the federal government in the matter of criminal law. Years later, when Kebodeaux moved intrastate from San Antonio, Texas to El Paso, Texas, he failed to update his change of address within the three-day period as required by the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) of 2006. Even though Kebodeaux was unconditionally released from custody before SORNA was enacted, he was sentenced to one year in federal prison. The Fifth Circuit overturned his conviction en banc, meaning that every judge on the Fifth Circuit heard the case rather than the traditional three-judge panel. They found the registration requirement unconstitutional because Congress lacked jurisdiction over Kebodeaux after they unconditionally released him from custody. The government's arguments to the contrary, the court held, would permit not just "unending criminal authority" over Kebodeaux but unending authority over every American who was once in federal jurisdiction, which is, of course, every American.

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categoriesTypes, Research
Published by: Cato Institute on May 08, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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09/18/2013

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N
O
. 12-418I
N
T
HE
 
Supreme Court of the United States
U
NITED
S
TATES
,
Petitioner,
 v. A 
NTHONY 
J
 AMES
EBODEAUX
,
Respondent.
On Writ of Certiorarito the U.S. Court Of Appealsfor the Fifth CircuitBrief of the Cato Institute as
 Amicus Curiae 
inSupport of RespondentI
LYA 
S
OMIN
 
Counsel of Record 
G
EORGE
M
 ASON
U
NIVERSITY 
S
CHOOL OF
L
 AW
 3301 Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA 22201(703) 993-8069isomin@gmu.edu
 
I
LYA 
S
HAPIRO
 Cato Institute1000 Mass. Ave., N.W.Washington, D.C. 20001(202) 842-0200ishapiro@cato.org
 
i
QUESTION PRESENTED
Can the United States use the Necessary andProper Clause to assert perpetual jurisdiction oversomeone merely because he once was within federal jurisdiction?
 
ii
TABLE OF CONTENTSPage
QUESTION PRESENTED..........................................iTABLE OF AUTHORITIES......................................ivINTEREST OF
 AMICUS CURIAE............................
1SUMMARY OF ARGUMENT....................................1I. MR. KEBODEAUX’S DETENTION ISIMPROPER BECAUSE IT REQUIRES THE ASSUMPTION OF A GREAT, SUBSTANTIVE, AND INDEPENDENT POWER BEYONDTHOSE ENUMERATED IN THECONSTITUTION...................................................5II. MR. KEBODEAUX’S DETENTION ISIMPROPER BECAUSE IT CANNOT BEJUSTIFIED WITHOUT GIVING CONGRESSUNLIMITED AUTHORITY TO REGULATE VIRTUALLY ALL AMERICANS..........................9III.MR. KEBODEUX’S DETENTION IS IMPROPERUNDER
UNITED STATES V. COMSTOCK 
.....16 A. The Five
Comstock 
Considerations Weigh Against Mr. Kebodeaux’s Detention..............171. Mr. Kebodeaux’s detention is not justifiedby any long history of federal involvementin the relevant field..................................172. The government lacks “sound reasons” formaintaining control over Mr. Kebodeaux18

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