A Collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh

US Supreme Court rules on repeat offender, child pornography cases

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] handed down four decisions [order list, PDF] Monday, including United States v. Rodriquez [LII case backgrounder], where the Court ruled [text] that for purposes of increasing a sentence under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) [text] a conviction qualifies as a predicate serious drug offense even when the crime is made punishable by a 10-year prison term only because of additional penalties imposed on repeat offenders. The ruling reversed the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit's judgment [PDF text] that sentence enhancements are not to be taken into account when determining whether a given crime constitutes an ACCA predicate offense. Justice Souter, joined by Ginsburg and Stevens, filed a dissent [texts]. AP has more.

In United States v. Williams [Duke Law backgrounder; JURIST report], the Court held that the PROTECT Act [text], aimed at preventing the pandering or solicitation of child pornography, was not unconstitutionally broad or vague, unlike similar laws [Child Pornography Prevention Act] challenged in the past. The ruling reversed a holding [PDF text] by the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Read the 7-2 opinion of the court, delivered by Scalia; Stevens' concurrence, joined by Breyer; and Souter's dissent [texts], joined by Ginsburg. Reuters has more.

In United States v. Ressam [LII backgrounder; JURIST report], the Court voted 8-1 to uphold the conviction of so-called "Millennium Bomber" Ahmed Ressam [PBS profile]. The Court reversed the judgment [PDF text] of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and ruled that Ressam could be convicted and sentenced under a law [text] punishing the carrying of explosives while committing a felony even if the explosives were not related to the felony offense. Justice Stevens delivered the opinion of the Court; Thomas, joined by Scalia, concurred in part and concurred in the judgment; Breyer wrote a dissent [texts]. The Washington Post has more.

In Department of Revenue of Kentucky v. Davis [Duke Law backgrounder; JURIST report], the Court ruled that Kentucky may tax interest earned on out-of-state municipal bonds while exempting from taxation the interest income from similar in-state bonds without violating the US Constitution's Commerce Clause. The ruling reversed a decision [PDF text] by the Kentucky Court of Appeals holding that the system improperly burdened interstate commerce. The case's particulars resulted in an unusual number of filings: Justice Souter delivered the opinion of the Court, except as to Part III–B; Stevens and Breyer joined that opinion in full; Roberts and Ginsburg joined all but Part III–B; and Scalia joined all but Parts III–B and IV. Stevens filed a concurring opinion; Roberts and Scalia filed opinions concurring in part; Thomas filed an opinion concurring in the judgment. Kennedy filed a dissent, in which Alito joined, although Alito also filed his own short dissent [texts]. AP has more.

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.