News from the U.S. Supreme Court – the court has NOT decided whether it will review Doe v. Snyder, last summer’s ground-breaking decision by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals
The U.S. Supreme Court has been asked to review an important ruling (Doe v. Snyder) which was handed down last summer by a federal appeals court, the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. The request was discussed in a private conference last Friday and today we learned the result – the Supreme Court has made NO decision on the request for review. They did not reject it, they did not grant it. Instead the Supreme Court asked the Solicitor General for their opinion, in the form of a legal brief. The Solicitor General is the lawyer who represents the federal government – the Trump Administration — in Supreme Court matters. What does this mean? The Supreme Court did not outright reject the request for review but they apparently have some interest in this case and might still decide to grant review in the near future. So stay tuned for further action by the Supreme Court.
What’s at stake: Doe v. Snyder is a big victory and when the 6th Circuit issued its decision it became the first federal appeals court to rule that parts of a sex offense registration law are punishment, and unconstitutional if they’re applied retroactively – see the news headlines, below. Michigan’s sex offense registry law was challenged and it was cut back by the 6th Circuit’s decision. Michigan lost so they’re hoping to undo the damage to their registration law by asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the 6th Circuit decision.
What about Supreme Court review of this case, good or bad idea? If the Supreme Court rejects the request for review, the 6th Circuit decision stands and is in effect for Michigan and the other states (Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee) in that federal circuit. If the Supreme Court agrees to review the case, anything can happen – the Supreme Court could uphold the 6th Circuit’s decision or change it or even uphold the Michigan registration law. If the Supreme Court grants review, by the time the case is actually heard the currently vacant seat on the court is likely to be filled with a Trump administration nominee. With so much uncertainty, some would prefer the Supreme Court refuse to review the case and just let the 6th Circuit decision alone. The 6th Circuit decision means that a number of people will be freed from the registry but that is up in the air while the Supreme Court decides what to do. Bold and ground-breaking, the 6th Circuit ruling is already influencing other courts. –Bill Dobbs, The Dobbs Wire
The order from the US Supreme Court in the case of Doe v Snyder, the challenge to the Ex Post Facto application of Sex Offender registry conditions, reads as follows:
“The Acting Solicitor General is invited to file a brief in this case expressing the views of the United States.”
I believe it’s fair to say what the Solicitor General’s position will be. It’s difficult to formulate an opinion as to whether this is a good thing or a bad thing – comments are welcome. From FAC
Commentary from SCOTUSblog:
And in Snyder v. Doe, the justices asked the federal government to file a brief expressing the views of the United States on whether the application of various provisions of the sex-offender-registry laws to individuals who were convicted before the laws were enacted violates the U.S. Constitution’s ban on retroactive punishment. There is no deadline for the federal government to file its brief, although it is likely to do so by fall.