United States v. Kebodeaux

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Constitutional Law
  • Date Filed: January 11, 2013
  • Case #: 12-418
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Court Below: Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, 687 F.3d 232 (2012)
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether the Sex Offender and Notification Act (SORNA) is constitutional as applied against a person who completed his criminal sentence prior to SORNA's enactment.

In 1999, while serving in the military, Respondent had sexual intercourse with a fifteen-year-old and was convicted under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Respondent served a three month sentence, was discharged from the military and registered as a sex offender in El Paso, Texas. He then moved to San Antonio, Texas, where he failed to update his sex offender registration as required by the Sex Offender and Notification Act (SORNA).

The district court convicted Respondent for violating SORNA, and a panel of the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed. On rehearing en banc, the court reversed and held that it was unconstitutional to apply SORNA to an individual who was a convicted sex criminal, but had been unconditionally let free prior to SORNA’s enactment in 2006. Additionally, the Court held that Congress did not have the authority under Article I of the Constitution to enforce SORNA against individuals, like the respondent, who only moved within the same state.

On appeal, the government argues that Congress reasonably exercised Article I powers, and that SORNA was correctly applied to the Respondent.

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