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United States v. Kebodeaux

JudgmentReversed, 7-2, in an opinion by Justice Breyer on June 24, 2013. Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito filed opinions concurring in the judgment. Justice Scalia filed a dissenting opinion. Justice Thomas filed a dissenting opinion, in which Justice Scalia joined as to parts I, II, and III-B.

Issue: (1) Whether the court of appeals erred in conducting its constitutional analysis on the premise that respondent was not under a federal registration obligation until the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) was enacted, when pre-SORNA federal law obligated him to register as a sex offender; and (2) whether the court of appeals erred in holding that Congress lacks the Article I authority to provide for criminal penalties under 18 U.S.C. § 2250(a)(2)(A), as applied to a person who was convicted of a sex offense under federal law and completed his criminal sentence before SORNA was enacted.

Summary / Timeline: http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/united-states-v-kebodeaux/
Oral Argument: http://www.oyez.org/cases/2010-2019/2012/2012_12_418
SCOTUS Opinion: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/12-418_7k8b.pdf

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By a 7-2 decision, the US Supreme Court has reversed the 5th Circuit Kebodeaux decision. Kebodeaux must register, even though all infractions were conducted within the same state’s borders. I haven’t read the decision yet, but the two dissenters were coservatives (actually, “constitutional originalists”) Thomas and Scalia. This is a chilling moment for the registry as a whole, though it has confirmed my own leanings that it will be the conservative (constitutionalist) side that will rule in our favor more than the left. http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/12-418_7k8b.pdf In my opinion, the US Constitution is no longer applicable. Sex offender issues have always been… Read more »

Janice, could you explain this as to what the current and near future implications might be for those of us who register?

This case only affects pre-SORNA registrants. It wouldn’t have made a difference for anyone convicted after 2006. So for those of us who were convicted before 2006, it might have made a small difference if they had voted in our favor. Though I am doubtful since this is a Federal question and therefore might not have made any difference with state law. For instance, lifetime registry for a 288 case was mandatory before SORNA was ever enacted. All SORNA does is ensure that the states are in compliance with their guidelines. So in the end, it probably wouldn’t have made… Read more »

Actually, I’m also looking at the aspect that this is a ruling that ex post facto is still valid when it comes to laws concerning sex crimes and registration. For years, courts have allowed ex post facto laws when it comes to laws regarding sex crimes and registration, my case included. My case was not a registerable offense at the time the alleged crime happened(which happens to be in 2006) or even when convicted(Feb 2007), but became registerable 7-8 months after my conviction.

Everyone needs to read this chilling opinion and take note that a violation of federal SORNA is serious business. This affects much more than the defendant here (Kebodeaux), for the majority of the court has given the federal government police powers far above what one could imagine, contrary to the Chief Justice’s concurring opinion. To protect the public the federal government can pass any type of registration requirement and apply it to ANYONE who crosses state boundaries for any reason, as well as any federal convict. In this case, it was a military conviction that followed the defendant through intrastate… Read more »

Matthew, based on your assessment, I’m wondering how long it will be before a similar case is brought before SCOTUS, since this ruling will only accentuate the giant cluster %*$# between federal and state laws. I know it could be years but , if your interpretation is correct (I haven’t had time to really dive into this yet), then its only going to cause more obfuscation (which seems to be the #1 priority for SCOTUS this year) and therefore misapplication of laws, dare I say – even violations of equal protection? I’m not saying it would be easy in any… Read more »

td777, I think you got a raw deal, my brother. But I guess that pretty much goes without saying for almost all if us. So sorry about your plight though. Its stories like yours that help me to keep from dwelling on my own cruddy situation and inspire to wanna risk my own neck to try and make a difference. Sometimes I just want to avoid it all and hope it will go away, but this site is full of reminders as to why we’ve got to keep fighting. Thank you.

Thanks. My deal actually got more raw a year later when my probation officer conspired with an investigator from a DA’s office to accuse me on a second similar case which was entirely bogus because they weren’t happy that I didn’t do any jail or prison time, and made sure I ended up doing some. While on parole, my case was examined thoroughly by each parole agent I got, as well as the psychologist assigned to my case. The consensus was that had it not been for the prior, it would have been a DA reject. Instead, I was forced… Read more »

I’m with you about reliance on God alone. Gotta be careful about who to trust. I’ve come to the conclusion that besides the useless public defenders, all attorneys share one common goal – to get their hands on your money and do as little work in the process as they can. I know there are a few out there like Janice, God bless them. I hope and pray to one day pass the bar myself so that I can be in a better position to fight these issues myself.

You got that right. On the probation violation part of my case, my wife hired an attorney who said he would represent me for both the probation violation as well as against the new charge. He never prepared for the probation violation, then took the money and run after taking a dive on me with it. He said he never agreed to represent me on the new case, which is why I was left with a public defender in the first place.

I just got my Truck Driver’s license what you are telling me is traveling across state lines is illegal depending on the state being crossed? If that is true then my CDL Class “A” license isn’t worth the plastic it’s printed on for cross state line driving!

Robert, from my understanding, that is correct. If you intend to drive outside the jurisdiction of your registration, even more so out of state, you have to check local and state laws everywhere you go. Some places, you are not allowed to even stay overnight while traveling unless you register. That isn’t even taking into consideration the federal restrictions. I have family out of state, including a mother who is very ill in Texas. I haven’t seen her in 8 years, and I can’t even consider making a trip to see her at this point. I’ve got a wife and… Read more »

Alright, I haven’t the time to really go over this case in great detail but this is basically my assessment: SORNA says registrants have to update their registration when they move. Texas doesn’t care so long as they update their annual. Kebodeaux didn’t update his registration when he moved intrastate back in 2007, from San Antonio to El Paso. Again, the State of Texas saw no problem with this. The Federal government, on the other hand, does have a problem with it and so prosecuted him for the age-old “recidivism excuse” – Failure to Register. Kebodeaux challenged the Federal government’s… Read more »

An unintended scenario is that over 800,000 ex-offenders have an instant way to contact others on the registry. I also question what these ex-offenders must be thinking, since there seems to be no way to redeem oneself, no matter their behavior. I personally don’t like the implied reality for these offenders; of having nothing to lose once on the registry.

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