May 17, 2010

United States Supreme Court decisions 5-17-2010

Graham v. Florida             Cruel and Unusual Punishment / Juvenile Law
U.S. Supreme Court held incarcerating juveniles for life without the possibility of parole violates the Cruel and Unusual Clause of Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Justice Kennedy wrote the opinion, in which Justices Stevens, Ginsberg, Breyer, and Sotomayor joined. Chief Justice Roberts concurred in judgment, reasoning: 1) these cases should be case-by-case, and 2) that this case violated the Eighth Amendment. Justices Alito, Scalia, and Thomas dissented. 

United States v. Comstock            Necessary and Proper Clause
U.S. Supreme Court held that Congress can, through the Necessary and Proper Clause, confine anyone who:
(1) has previously “engaged or attempted to engage in sexually violent conduct or child molestation,” (2) currently “suffers from a serious mental illness, abnormality, or disorder,” and (3) “as a result of” that mental illness, abnormality, or disorder is “sexually dangerous to others,” in that “he would have serious difficulty in refraining from sexually violent conduct or child molestation if released.”
Interestingly, Justice Breyer, with the other three ‘liberals’ joining him wrote the opinion. Chief Justice Roberts also joined in the majority opinion, and Justices Kennedy and Alito concurred in result. Justice Thomas wrote a thorough dissent undermining the majority’s reasoning that Congress had the authority to invade what is otherwise a province of the state.

Abbott v. Abbott            International Law and Child Custody
Nothing criminal, but an interesting case nonetheless. Mom and Dad file for divorce in Chile. Chile grants physical custody of the boy to Mom, with plenty of visitation and other rights to the Dad. Dad gets a passport for the boy. Mom thinks Dad is going to take him to Britain where Dad is a citizen. Mom, a U.S. citizen, files some orders with the Chilean court to prevent Dad from taking the boy out of the country without her consent. However, while that litigation proceeds, Mom takes the boy out of Chile, lands in Texas, and files for divorce in Texas. Mom hid the boy from Dad. Dad hired an investigator, found Mom, and demanded a return of the boy. Texas gave physical custody to the mom, and denied Dad’s request to take the boy back to Chile. The U.S. Supreme Court held that the Hague Convention mandates a return of the boy back to Chile. 

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