|Docket nos. 08-1224|
Date decided 2010
|Citations 560 U.S. 126 (more)|
|Full case name United States, Petitioner v. Graydon Earl Comstock, Jr., et al.|
Majority Breyer, joined by Roberts, Stevens, Ginsburg, Sotomayor
Similar Gonzales v Raich, United States v Morrison, South Dakota v Dole, Granholm v Heald, Wickard v Filburn
United States v. Comstock, 560 U.S. 126 (2010), was a decision by the Supreme Court of the United States, which held that the federal government has authority under the Necessary and Proper Clause to require the civil commitment of individuals already in Federal custody. The practice, introduced by the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, was upheld against a challenge that it fell outside the enumerated powers granted to Congress by the Constitution. The decision did not rule on any other aspect of the law's constitutionality, because only the particular issue of Congressional authority was properly before the Court.
Six days before Graydon Earl Comstock was to have completed a 37-month sentence for receiving child pornography, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales certified that Comstock was a sexually dangerous person. The law that Attorney General Gonzales was applying was ruled unconstitutional by lower courts on the grounds it exceeded Congress’s constitutional authority. Argued in January 2010 by Solicitor General Elena Kagan, the United States' position was that the "necessary and proper" clause gave Congress the power to enact the law.
Opinion of the Court
Stephen Breyer delivered the opinion of the Court, that the "necessary and proper" clause permitted Congress to enact such a provision. John Roberts, and John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Sonia Sotomayor joined Breyer's opinion. Anthony Kennedy and Samuel Alito filed opinions concurring in the judgment. Clarence Thomas filed a dissenting opinion in which Antonin Scalia joined in all but Part III– A–1–b.
The Court said: "We base this conclusion on five considerations, taken together." The five considerations are as follows.