Two Supreme Court justices at opposite ends of the ideological span came to a refreshing meeting of the minds Tuesday in a case before the high court.
In a case forcing an ex-con to comply with the 2006 Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Neil Gorsuch suggested Congress turned over too much decision-making power to the Justice Department, The Washington Times reported.
The justices were hearing arguments from the lawyer for Herman Gundy, who was forced to register even though he’d already served his sentence on a 2005 conviction — before the law existed. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had rejected Gundy’s defense, sending the case to the high court.
“How do people even know who is going to be included in this class until they hear from the attorney general?” Gorsuch remarked, the news outlet reported. “I’m having trouble thinking of another delegation in which this court has ever allowed the chief prosecutor of the United States to write the criminal law for those he’s going to prosecute.”
Ginsburg added: “There’s no notice to these people.”
The law was enacted so sex offenders could be tracked once they’re released back into the community, and requires each state to keep a database and information on the felons.
But Gorsuch said the law amounts to “a blank check to the attorney general of the United States to determine who he’s going to prosecute.”
On that point, Ginsburg jumped in, The Washington Times reported, telling Gundy’s lawyer, Sarah Baumgartel, to follow Gorsuch’s lead: “That’s your argument stated very concisely.”
“I’ll cede my time,” Baumgartel replied, triggering an outburst of laughter in the courtroom.
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