United States v. Kebodeaux

Kebodeaux was convicted by special court-martial of a federal sex offense. After serving his sentence and receiving a bad-conduct discharge from the Air Force, he moved to Texas where he registered with state authorities as a sex offender. Congress later enacted the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), which requires federal sex offenders to register in the states where they live, study, and work, 42 U.S.C. 16913(a). SORNA applies to offenders who, when SORNA became law, had completed their sentences. When Kebodeaux moved within Texas and failed to update his registration, the federal government prosecuted him and the district court convicted him under SORNA. The Fifth Circuit reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that SORNA’s registration requirements, as applied to Kebodeaux, fall within the scope of congressional authority under the Necessary and Proper Clause. Congress did not apply SORNA to an individual who was, before its enactment, “unconditionally released,” but to an individual already subject to federal registration requirements. SORNA somewhat modified registration requirements to which Kebodeaux was already subject, to make more uniform "a patchwork of federal and 50 individual state registration requirements." At the time of his offense and conviction, Kebodeaux was subject to the Wetterling Act, which imposed similar registration requirements and was promulgated under the Military Regulation Clause (Art. I, s. 8, cl. 14), and the Necessary and Proper Clause. The same power that authorized Congress to promulgate the Uniform Code of Military Justice and punish Kebodeaux’s crime also authorized Congress to make the civil registration requirement at issue a consequence of conviction. Imposing a civil registration requirement that would apply upon the release of an offender like Kebodeaux is “eminently reasonable,” as is assignment of a special role to the federal government in ensuring compliance with federal sex offender registration requirements. View "United States v. Kebodeaux" on Justia Law