This case involved a constitutional challenge to certain provisions of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006. At issue was the civil commitment program for sexual predators as outlined in the Act. 18 U.S.C. § 4248.
The issue arose in five cases filed by the government in 2006, in which the government sought to institute commitment proceedings with respect to federal prisoners incarcerated at FCI-Butner whose sentences were about to expire. Each inmate had been convicted of a federal criminal offense involving sexual deviancy, such as possession of child pornography or sexual abuse of a minor. In each case, the Federal Public Defender filed a motion to dismiss the petition for hearing, arguing that the civil commitment provisions of the Act were unconstitutional. The five cases were not consolidated, but District Judge W. Earl Britt of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina decided to issue one ruling on all cases.
On September 7, 2007, the District Court (Earl Britt) granted the prisoners' motions and dismissed all of the government's petitions. In his order, Judge Britt determined that the civil commitment provision of the Adam Walsh Act was not a necessary and proper exercise of Congressional authority.
On January 8, 2009 the decision of the District Court was affirmed by the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals (Diana Gribbon Motz), holding that 18 U.S.C. § 4248 thus could not be sustained as an exercise of Congress's authority under the Commerce Clause or any other provision of the Constitution.
On May 18, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court (Breyer, J.) reversed and remanded the 4th Circuit's decision, finding that the Necessary and Proper Clause granted Congress broad authority to criminalize conduct, imprison those who engaged in that conduct, and enact laws governing prisons and prisoners in the course of carrying into execution the enumerated powers vested by the U.S. Constitution. The Court did not address other constitutional challenges to the law.
On December 6, 2010, the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals (Diana Gribbon Motz) reversed and remanded the decision of the District Court, finding that the respondents had not met the heavy burden of demonstrating that the clear and convincing evidence standard rendered the statute unconstitutional on its face.
On November 29, 2011, a judgment was issued by the United States District Court, Eastern District of North Carolina (Bernard A. Friedman), releasing the respondent from custody. This case is closed.
Note that our document collection for this case only contains the PACER docket for the first case filed, U.S. v. Comstock. The other cases included: U.S. v. Shane Catron, 5:06-HC-2202BR; U.S. v. Thomas Matherly, 5:06-HC-2205BR; U.S. v. Marvin Vigil, 5:06-HC-2206BR; and U.S. v. Markis Revland. 5:06-HC-2212BR.Gregory Pitt - 07/13/2012