10th Amendment case heads to Supreme Court

Will Rahn Senior Editor
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When Carol Anne Bond learned that her best friend was pregnant, she was thrilled. Then she found out her husband was the father, and she set out for revenge.

Now the strange case of Carol Anne Bond is heading to the Supreme Court. As The Washington Post reports, it has attracted the interest of conservative and libertarian groups that see it as an important test of 10th Amendment rights.

Bond, a microbiologist by training, repeatedly tried to poison her friend Myrlinda Haynes with a toxic cocktail of rare chemicals. Haynes’ injuries were minor, and local law enforcement refused to get involved. She looked to the federal government for assistance, and Bond eventually pleaded guilty of violating the domestic enforcement statutes of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction, an international treaty signed by the United States.

Under Pennsylvania’s aggravated-assault laws, her attorneys argue that Bond’s punishment would have lasted three to 25 months. Instead, Bond was sentenced under the statute to six years in prison, five years of supervised probation, a $2,000 fine, and $10,000 in restitution fees.

“If (executed Iraqi war criminal) Chemical Ali wanders into your district, this is your statute,” Bond’s lawyer, Paul D. Clement, told the paper. “But it’s not for a domestic case in Bucks County.” Clement, a former Bush administration solicitor general, argues that the Philadelphia U.S. Attorney’s office went after Bond with a “sledgehammer,” and that the federal government violated the 10th Amendment by overstepping its bounds.

According to Bond and her attorneys, enforcing the statute “exceeded the federal government’s enumerated powers, violated bedrock federalism principles guaranteed under the 10th Amendment, and impermissibly criminalized conduct that lacked any nexus to a legitimate federal interest.”

The question is whether Bond can challenge her conviction. In 1939, the Supreme Court ruled that only states have the right to bring legal challenges under the 10th Amendment, which states that any powers not given to the federal government by the Constitution “are reserved to the States… or to the people.” The Cato Institute, Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, and gun owner groups have all filed briefs on Bond’s behalf.

Alabama, Colorado, Florida, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah have also filed briefs with the court. All these states are, not coincidentally, involved with challenging last year’s federal health care law as an infringement on state’s rights. According to the states’ brief, they “welcome the efforts of private citizens” to challenge federal actions.