Sunday, January 20, 2013

US Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Case Involving Chemical Weapons Convention

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari in Bond. v. United States, which raises issues regarding federalism and proper treaty implementation in the United States. The United States is a party to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which it implemented through a federal statute, the Chemical Weapons Convention Implemenation Act, 18 USC sec. 229.  The Act certain criminalizes activities that may lead to the spread of chemical weapons.

Carol Anne Bond was arrested and charged with violating the Act for attempting to poison her husband's lover by applying certain highly toxic chemicals to the other woman's mailbox, car door handles and house doornob. She was convicted under the Act of acquiring, transferring, receiving, retaining, or possessing a chemical weapon. Ms. Bond challenged the constitutionality of the Act claiming that Congress does not have the authority under the U.S. Constitution to implement the CWC because the criminal activity at issue must be regulated by states and local governments pursuant to federalism principles.  

The US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upheld Ms. Bond's conviction stating that, "because the
Convention is an international agreement with a subject matter that lies at the core of the Treaty Power and because Holland [v. Missouri] instructs that 'there can be no dispute about the validity of [a] statute' that implements a valid treaty, we will affirm Bond's conviction."  The U.S. Supreme Court must now determine whether the federal government does have the power to regulate criminal behavior pursuant to its treaty power that it might not be able to reach under its commerce clause or other expressly enumerated powers.

The petition for writ of certiorari may be found here.


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