Oral argument: Jan. 12, 2009
Appealed from: United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (Jan. 8, 2009).
ADAM WALSH CHILD PROTECTION AND SAFETY ACT, FEDERALISM, DUE PROCESS, NECESSARY AND PROPER CLAUSE, COMMERCE CLAUSE
Petitioner, the United States, argues that 18 U.S.C § 4248, which authorizes the civil commitment of “sexually dangerous” persons, is a constitutional exercise of Congressional power. Respondents, Graydon Earl Comstock Jr., et al. (“Comstock”), counter that civil commitment of an individual after the completion of a federal prison sentence exceeds Congressional power, because it (1) encroaches on states’ authority and (2) is neither necessary nor proper to operating a valid federal regulation. The Fourth Circuit rejected the United States’ argument that § 4248 is necessary and proper to its ability to maintain the federal penal system. The Supreme Court must now decide (1) whether § 4248 is incidental to Congress’ Article I powers and (2) whether civil commitment of individuals labeled “sexually dangerous” and already in federal custody or incompetent to stand trial is an encroachment on state power.