On April 23, 2014, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Paroline v. United States. The question in this child pornography case was what, if any, causal relationship or nexus between the defendant's conduct and the victim's harm or damages must the government or the victim establish in order to recover restitution under 18 U.S.C. Sec. 2259.
In an opinion delivered by Justice Kennedy, the Court held that restitution is proper under §2259 only to the extent the defendant’s offense proximately caused a victim’s losses. Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Alito, and Kagan joined the opinion of the Court. Chief Justice Roberts authored a dissenting opinion, which Justices Scalia and Thomas joined. Justice Sotomayor wrote a separate dissenting opinion. By a vote of 5-4, the decision of the Fifth Circuit was vacated and remanded.
To discuss the case, we have John G. Malcolm, Director, Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, The Heritage Foundation and Paul Cassell, Ronald N. Boyce Presidential Professor of Criminal Law, University of Utah College Of Law.