Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Domestic disputes resulting from marital infidelities and culminating in a thumb burn are appropriately handled by local law enforcement authorities.

That was Paul Clement to the Supreme Court in this fascinating case about the reach of the feds and whether the 10th Amendment could be a new weapon in the fight against the over-criminalization by the federal government. From the NY Times:

The Tea Party’s favorite part of the Constitution — the 10th Amendment, which limits federal power — arrived at the Supreme Court last week. In keeping with the spirit of the times, it came wrapped in the plot of a soap opera.

The amendment has played a starring role in challenges to the recent federal health care legislation. But the justices have not made the task of divining their own views particularly easy.

Their most recent consideration of where Congress’s constitutional power ends came in a case involving the civil commitment of sex offenders.

Now the court has decided to consider what to do about a woman hellbent on poisoning her best friend.

The woman, Carol A. Bond of Lansdale, Pa., was at first delighted to learn that her friend was pregnant. Ms. Bond’s mood darkened, though, when it emerged that her husband was the father. “I am going to make your life a living hell,” she said, according to her now-former friend, Myrlinda Haynes.

Ms. Bond, a microbiologist, certainly tried. On about two dozen occasions, she spread lethal chemicals on her friend’s car, mailbox and doorknob.

Ms. Haynes, who managed to escape serious injury, complained to the local police. They did not respond with particular vigor. After checking to see whether the white powder on her car was cocaine, they advised her to have it cleaned.

Federal postal inspectors were more helpful. They videotaped Ms. Bond stealing mail and putting poison in the muffler of Ms. Haynes’s car.

When it came time to charge Ms. Bond with a crime, federal prosecutors chose a novel theory. They indicted her not only for stealing mail, an obvious federal offense, but also for using unconventional weapons in violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993, a treaty aimed at terrorists and rogue states.

Had she been prosecuted in state court, Ms. Bond would most likely have faced a sentence of three months to two years, her lawyers say. In federal court, she got six years.

Ms. Bond’s argument on appeal was that Congress did not have the constitutional power to use a chemical weapons treaty to address a matter of a sort routinely handled by state authorities.

She relied on the 10th Amendment, the one so beloved by Tea Party activists. It says that “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”

Now on to the First Amendment (via ATL). Go to the 2:20 mark... It's too good to pass up:


Anonymous said...

Show me where in the 1st Amendment it says that there shall be a separation of church and state? All the 1st Amendment says is that Congress shall not establish a religion. Why do liberals want to drive religion out of public life?

Anonymous said...

Technically she is correct... 1st Amendment has Establishment Clause and Free Exercise Clause... There is no verbatim "separation of church and state"...

Publius said...

It is pretty funny that that Coons guy couldn't name the rights protected in the First Amendment. At least the lady knew that the words "separation of church and state" don't appear in the Constitution.

Robert Kuntz said...

As I commented elsewhere, David, it is perhaps unkind to castigate her for ignorance of just one amendment. After all, there have been 27 of them, and that's quite a lot to keep track of.

Maybe she's particularly strong on quartering troops or direct election of senators or presidential succession.

Anonymous said...

How was the party for Gelber last night?

Anonymous said...

Christine O'Donnell was pointing out that the words "separation of church and state" do not appear in the constitution. She also asked Coonts to name the five freedoms guaranteed by the first amendment and he could only answer one. I don't understand why anyone sees this as a "gaffe" on her part. She clearly understands the consitution better than her opponent.

Anonymous said...

Article VII dates the Constitution in "the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven." What better evidence could there be that there is no separation between church and state!