United States v. Elk Shoulder

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Constitutional Law
  • Date Filed: 10-05-2012
  • Case #: 10-30072
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Ikuta for the Court; Circuit Judges Tashima and Bea
  • Full Text Opinion

Congress acted within its enumerated powers, derived from its authority to ensure public safety under the Necessary and Proper Clause, when it enacted the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act.

Defendant, Elk Shoulder was convicted of sexual abuse of a six-year-old child and sentenced to 172 months in prison followed by five years supervised release. Following several violations of his release and time served, he failed to register as a sex offender under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). After the district court denied his motions to dismiss challenging the constitutionality of SORNA, Elk Shoulders was found guilty of violating the registration requirements. He appealed arguing that the law violates the Ex Post Facto Clause, the Fifth Amendment, and that Congress lacks the Constitutional authority to impose SORNA registration on individuals convicted of federal sex crimes. The Ninth Circuit rejected the already decided Ex Post Facto Clause and Due Process claims. As for the Constitutional challenge to Congressional authority, the Court held that a registration requirement intended to inform the public of the identity and location of sex offenders is reasonably related to Congress’s authority to ensure public safety, which flows from its authority to enact and enforce criminal laws under the Necessary and Proper Clause. AFFIRMED.

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