On December 6, 2010, the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled unanimously that a federal law allowing indefinite detention of mentally ill sex offenders was constitutional. On remand from the US Supreme Court, the Fourth Circuit found that the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, which allows a district court to order the civil commitment of a "sexually dangerous" federal prisoner beyond the date he or she would otherwise be released, did not violate due process. The US Supreme Court had previously upheld the act in May 2010, after hearing arguments in United States v. Comstock. The court said the act was constitutional because the Necessary and Proper Clause granted Congress sufficient authority to pass such laws.
Learn more about the laws governing sex offenders from the JURIST news archive.