On May 17, 2010, the Supreme Court announced its decision in United States v. Comstock. The question in this case was whether Congress had the constitutional authority to enact 18 U.S.C. §4248, which authorizes court-ordered civil commitment by the federal government of (1) "sexually dangerous" persons who are already in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons, but who are coming to the end of their federal prison sentences, and (2) "sexually dangerous" persons who are in the custody of the Attorney General because they have been found mentally incompetent to stand trial.
Justice Breyer delivered the opinion of the Court, which Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Stevens, Ginsburg, and Sotomayor joined. The Court held that the Necessary and Proper Clause grants Congress a sufficient amount of authority to enact §4248. Justice Kennedy and Justice Alito each filed opinions concurring in the judgment. Justice Thomas filed a dissenting opinion, which Justice Scalia joined, except for Part III-A-1-b.
To discuss the case, we have University of Kansas School of Law Professor Stephen R. McAllister and Mr. Ilya Shapiro, who is a Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies at the Cato Institute and the Editor-in-Chief of the Cato Supreme Court Review. Ms. Erin Sheley, the Deputy Director of the Federalist Society's Faculty Division, is the discussion's moderator.