Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Supreme Court hears unlikely test of federal power

WASHINGTON — A melodramatic love triangle begat a ham-handed revenge poisoning. That led to what one justice called an "unimaginable" federal prosecution of the scorned wife under a law enacted to implement a global chemical weapons treaty.

And that in turn led Tuesday to a grand constitutional showdown at the U.S. Supreme Court that at times seemed emblematic of the nation's long-running political debate over the limits of federal power.

At the center of the case is a question of when the federal government may intrude on powers traditionally given to the states — in this case, police powers. And a majority of the justices bristled at Solicitor General Donald Verrilli's argument that courts have little place to question that intrusion when it takes the form of legislation adopted by Congress to carry out a treaty.

Justice Samuel Alito said most people would be "flabbergasted" to know how federal prosecutors used the law targeting terrorists who use chemical weapons to go after Carol Anne Bond, a central Pennsylvania microbiologist.

Bond, who cannot have children, was outraged in 2006 when she learned that her best friend, Myrlinda Haynes, was pregnant by Bond's husband, Clifford. Bond ordered a rare blend of chemicals, partly off the Internet, and over the next several months tried to poison Haynes 24 times by putting them on her doorknob, car and, critically, mailbox.

Haynes suffered nothing more than a burn on her fingers, and local prosecutors would not pursue charges. They suggested she call in the feds, and postal inspectors set up surveillance that identified Bond as her assailant.

Federal prosecutors charged Bond with violating the 1998 Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Act, a law based on the chemical weapons ban treaty that is signed by all but four of the world's nation.

Bond pleaded guilty while reserving the right to appeal her conviction. The case has been through so many courts — there was a previous stop at the Supreme Court — that she has completed her prison term (and reunited with her husband, lawyers say).

"It also seems unimaginable that you would bring this prosecution," Justice Anthony Kennedy told Verrilli.

Supreme Court hears unlikely test of federal power 11/05/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 5, 2013 10:52pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Washington Post.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa Chamber of Commerce announces small business winners

    Business

    TAMPA — The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce selected the winners of the 2017 Small Business of the Year Awards at a ceremony Wednesday night at the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. More than 600 attendees celebrated the accomplishments of Tampa Bay's small business community.

    Vincent Cassidy, president and CEO of Majesty Title Services, was named Outstanding Small Business Leader of the Year by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce.

  2. UF president Kent Fuchs: 'Charlottesville changed everything' (w/video)

    K12

    GAINESVILLE — Wednesday evening, hazy rumors of an impending Neo-Nazi march reached some wary protesters. A few quickly rallied to denounce the marchers in downtown Gainesville, only to find plazas empty but for police.

    University of Florida President W. Kent Fuchs talks with reporters Wednesday about white nationalist Richard Spencer's planned speech on Thursday. He said of Spencer: "In a small way, he is causing us to redouble our focus on supporting actions that are the opposite of what he wants." [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  3. Kenya vote chief says 'difficult' to have credible election

    World

    NAIROBI, Kenya — It is "difficult to guarantee a free, fair and credible election" in Kenya's fresh presidential vote just eight days away despite "full technical preparedness," the head of the election commission said Wednesday as another wave of uncertainty swept through East Africa's largest economy.

  4. International array of artists chosen as finalists for Pier project

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — A diverse group of six artists will compete for a chance to install their work at the city's multimillion-dollar Pier District, expected to open in early 2019.

  5. Former Jabil executive's fate in hands of murder trial jury

    Criminal

    LARGO — For a second time, Patrick Evans' future is in the hands of a jury.

    Patrick Evans talks with Allison Miller, one of his three public defenders, before jury selection this w eek. Evans, a former Jabil executive charged with killing his estranged wife and her friend almost 10 years ago, is back in court for a second trial after his original death sentence conviction was overturned by the Florida Supreme Court. JIM DAMASKE   |   Times