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.



 

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