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DOJ asks Fourth Circuit to rehear civil commitment case en banc

[JURIST] US Department of Justice (DOJ) lawyers on Monday asked the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit [official websites] to revisit a January decision in which a three-judge panel ruled [JURIST report] that indefinite civil commitment of "sexually dangerous" offenders was unconstitutional. The DOJ now seeks an en banc ruling [AP report] on the case, and is disputing the panel's holding [opinion, PDF] that civil commitment powers belong to the states. The government had unsuccessfully argued that federal power of civil commitment came from the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause [texts].

January's ruling invalidated part of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act [text], which also established a national sex offender registry [JURIST report]. This month, a federal district court ruled the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act of 2006 (SORNA) [DOJ backgrounder], which imposes penalties for failing to register, was also unconstitutional [JURIST report] under the Commerce Clause.

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