Thursday, February 24, 2011

Bond v. U.S...

There are two cases wending up the judicial pipeline towards the Supreme Court and they both bear watching.  As we continue to see the deleterious  effects that Citizens United v. FEC has had on our democracy, we had best pay attention to the next hits to our government and society.  
One case [Here] has been described by Robert Barnes, a staff writer for the Washington Post, and will be of particular interest to the Tea-Partyers who seem obsessed with our Tenth Amendment.  The other case was discussed in Wednesday’s NYTimes by Linda Greenhouse [Here] and involves the Voting Rights Act which was renewed for another twenty five years in 2006.  The implications of this act being struck down is obvious.  More on this tomorrow.
First, the Tenth Amendment issue.  This is what the Tea-Partyers are currently using to fight what they call ObamaCare. [Here]
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
These are the so-called reserved powers, among which are the police powers that are “reserved” to the states.  And there beginneth our tale...
When Carol Anne Bond heard that her best friend, Myrlinda Haynes, was pregnant, she was thrilled, but the joy quickly turned to hatred and vengence when she discovered that the baby’s father was her husband, Clifford Bond.   Carol Bond was a trained microbiologist and set out (or so the story goes) to poison her ex-friend with a homemade blend of rare and toxic chemicals.
When Haynes could not get local police to act on her complaint, she asked the U.S. attorney’s office in Philadelphia to investigate.  According to reporter Robert Barnes, Bond’s attorney has claimed that the Philadelphia attorneys tried his client under the anti-terrorist laws that were designed to put teeth in an international chemical-weapons treaty.
Bond claims that the feds had no right to indict her ---because the Tenth Amendment gives the states that power.  Not surprisingly, a whole host of rightwingers have rushed in to support this poisoner.  Among Bond’s defenders are Phyllis Schlafly and her Eagle Forum and the Cato Institute (co-founded by David Koch), and attorney generals from 6 states.
The issue is whether an individual has a right to sue in such cases (standing).  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit ruled that individuals do not have a right to sue without the state joining them.  
The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case last Tuesday.  WaPo’s reporter felt that the general impression left by the drift of the questions from the justices was that they felt a defendant should have the right to claim that the statute is unconstitutional.
The facts in the case are bizarre.  Haynes’s pregnancy apparently drove Bond into insane rage.  She threatened Haynes with repeated phone calls, was arrested in 2005 and was convicted of harrassment.  This didn’t deter Bond.  In a six-month period she tried to poison Haynes 24 times.  She bought poisonous substances and spread them on surfaces that Haynes was likely to touch--her car door, mailbox and front door.  Luckily for Haynes the chemicals were visible and she was able to escape serious injury and death.  
Haynes tried to get local law enforcement engaged but they were not interested.  Haynes did get her local mailman involved who brought in postal inspectors who caught Haynes on video spreading the chemicals.  The inspectors called in the feds.  
Bond was tried and sentenced to 6 years imprisonment, and five years supervised probation and fined.  (If she had been tried under the state’s aggravated-assault laws the penalty would have been 3 to 25 months.)
There are interesting questions of law in the case.  One of the more interesting questions is whether Bond has “standing.”  That is, does she have a right to sue under the Tenth Amendment or is it only a state that may sue under that Amendment.
This case, Bond v. U.S., will be closely watched.  There is more at stake here than an attempted murderess’s length of prison time.  Let's see if Scalia and Thomas open the door for the Tea Partyers to rush in.
By the way, I wonder who is paying for Bond’s extensive legal expenses?...

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