High Court Issue: Can U,S. Use Chemical Weapons Treaty in Criminal Case?


In a criminal case from Pennsylvania, Donald Verrilli, the Obama administration's top constitutional lawyer, warned the Supreme Court to tread lightly in a case involving the international treaty banning chemical weapons, the Christian Science Monitor reports. Verrilli said any effort to narrow the administration's expansive interpretation of its powers under the treaty could make it harder to enforce treaties and negotiate future accords at a time when sensitive efforts are under way in Syria. Five justices expressed discomfort with Verrilli's position. At issue is whether a statute passed by Congress to implement the Chemical Weapons Convention confers broad power on the federal government to prosecute crimes that would otherwise be handled by local police. The case involves Carol Bond, who attempted to use poisonous chemicals to injure a former friend after she discovered her husband was the father of the friend's baby. Rather than turning the case over to local authorities, federal prosecutors charged Bond with using “chemical weapons” against the former friend.

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