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United States v. Kebodeaux

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: June 24, 2013
Case #: 12-418
Breyer, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Kennedy, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan, JJ., joined. Roberts, C. J., and Alito, J., filed opinions concurring in the judgment. Scalia, J., filed a dissenting opinion. Thomas, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Scalia, J., joined as to Parts I, II, and III–B.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/12-418_7k8b.pdf

Constitutional Law: The Necessary and Proper Clause grants Congress the power to enact the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA).

Congress enacted the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), and required federal sex offenders to register with the state they reside in. Respondent was convicted of a sex offense, sentenced to three months imprisonment, and recieved a bad conduct discharge from the United States Air Force. He later moved to Texas and registered as a sex offender. Respondent failed to update his registration upon moving to a new city. Under SORNA, the federal government prosecuted Respondent for his failure to update.

The federal District Court convicted Respondent, but the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed. The Solicitor General petitioned to the Supreme Court to decide whether the enactment of SORNA was constitutional under the Necessary and Proper Clause.

The Supreme Court reversed, remanded and held that the Necessary and Proper Clause leaves wide discretion to Congress. Furthermore, the Court held that Congress’ decision to enact SORNA was reasonable under the Necessary and Proper Clause. In addition, when Respondent was first convicted, he was subject to the Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act (Wetterling Act). The Wetterling Act has very similar registration requirements to SORNA. Thus, the enactment of SORNA was constitutional, and because Respondent was already subject to federal registration requirements, he is also subject to SORNA.