Another Opinion: US v. Comstock

The Supreme Court has held that Congress can empower district courts to order the civil commitment of mentally ill, sexually dangerous offenders beyond their criminal sentences.  The Court held that the Necessary and Proper Clause validates the statutory provision, which the Court links to various federal regulatory interests, including the mental health of inmates and the safety of communities where inmates are released.  The ruling does not consider claims that the law could violate the Due Process Clause.

Predictably, the liberal justices joined Breyer’s majority opinion, but Chief Justice Roberts did also. Justice Alito joined Kennedy’s concurrence.  Only Scalia and Thomas dissented; the dissent offers quite a narrow vision of federal power (one that even Alito and Roberts could not accept).

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2 Responses

  1. John Beasley says:

    The words mentally ill were not in the legislation. Rather “sexually dangerous” was the wording. The dissent is narrow only in its interpretation of the necessary and proper clause, which they argue, in accordance with past supreme court decisions, is limited to what is necessary for the operation of the Federal Government. Their issue is that the detention of prisoners after their prison sentence is up has nothing to do with effective governance.

  2. just another example of why I love Justice Thomas!!

    And Justice Alito did not join Justice Kennedy’s concurrence; he wrote his own…which I read as agreeing with the tenor of the dissent but just not thinking it applied in this case.