On Tuesday the Supreme Court will hear arguments from Paul Clement, the lead attorney in Bond v. United States, that the federal government overstepped its constitutional authority in prosecuting a Pennsylvania housewife for attempting to poison a former friend.
If the court rules in favor of the government, implications for federal enforcement by police power of treaties, those ratified as well as those pending (such as the United Nations’ Arms Trade Treaty) are ominous.
Carol Anne Bond, an immigrant from Barbados, was working for a chemical manufacturer in a facility outside Philadelphia when she learned that her best friend, Myrlinda Haynes, had been impregnated by Bond’s husband, Clifford. In fits of rage, Bond harassed Haynes to the extent that, in 2005, she was arrested and convicted by a state court.
Her anger grew to the point where she stole some chemicals from her company, purchased some others from Amazon, mixed them together, and applied them to the front door of Haynes’ home, the door handles of her car, and her mailbox. From November 2006 through June 2007 she tried to poison Haynes on 24 separate occasions. When Haynes notified local police about the attacks, they were unresponsive. So Haynes told her mailman about the attacks, and since mailboxes are federal property, federal investigators were brought in. After surveillance revealed that Bond had used government property in her attempts to poison her former friend, the investigators charged Bond under a statute Congress passed to implement the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which the Senate ratified in 1997. She was convicted and sent to jail for six years, followed by another five years’ probation, and fined $12,000.
Paul Clement, the lead attorney in recent high-profile cases such as the defense of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the Second Amendment case McDonald v. Chicago, petitioned the court in 2011 that Bond’s rights under the 10th Amendment were violated and that Congress’ implementation statute was unconstitutional.
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