United States v. Comstock
United States Supreme Court
130 S.Ct. 1949 (2010)
A federal law allows a district court to civilly detain a mentally ill, sexually dangerous federal prisoner beyond the end of her sentence upon a showing by clear and convincing evidence that the inmate (1) “‘engaged or attempted to engage in sexually violent conduct or child molestation,” (2) currently “suffers from a serious mental illness, abnormality, or disorder,” and (3) is “sexually dangerous to others” as a result of the illness. 18 U.S.C. § 4248. The statute guarantees the inmate an attorney, a hearing, and other procedural protections. The federal government must turn the inmate over to the state where she was tried or domiciled if the state will accept her. In 2006, civil commitment proceedings were instituted against Grayson Comstock, Jr. and four other federal inmates (plaintiffs). The inmates had pleaded guilty to crimes involving child pornography and sexual abuse of a minor. The plaintiffs moved to dismiss, arguing that the statute violated the Double Jeopardy Clause, the Ex Post Facto Clause, the Sixth and Eighth Amendments, and the Equal Protection Clause. The district court dismissed on the grounds that (1) commitment required proof beyond a reasonable doubt and (2) Congress had exceeded its authority. The government appealed. The court of appeals affirmed based on the lack of congressional authority. The government petitioned the United States Supreme Court for certiorari to review the limited question of Congress’s authority to enact the statute under Article I, § 8 of the Constitution, which was granted.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Breyer, J.)
Concurrence (Alito, J.)
Dissent (Thomas, J.)
What to do next…
Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.
You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 97,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.
Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.
Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.
Here's why 166,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:
- Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 13,800 briefs, keyed to 187 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
- The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
- Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
- Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.