High Court Seen Likely To Back U.S. Power To Hold Sex Offenders


A majority of Supreme Court justices seems inclined to accept that the federal government has the power to indefinitely hold prisoners who are deemed sexually dangerous, even if they have completed their sentences, the Washington Post reports. Solicitor General Elena Kagan told the court yeterday that, when Congress passed a law authorizing civil commitments in such cases, it was doing “something pretty simple and very reasonable.”

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit said Congress exceeded its authority, because the power to authorize what is normally a state function cannot be found in the Constitution. Kagan said it is simply an extension of the federal government’s recognized power “to run a responsible criminal justice system.” She said that if the federal government cannot find a state willing to take responsibility for a sexually dangerous prisoner about to be released, federal officials have to step in.

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