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June 29, 2006

Final SCOTUS decisions of the Term

Wrapping up what I have come to view as a relatively uneventful Supreme Court Term for criminal law issues, the Court this morning issued its final two opinions: Hamdan addressing war crime tribunals and Clark on the insanity defense.  Here an early report on the decisions from SCOTUSblog:

The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that Congress did not take away the Court's authority to rule on the military commissions' validity, and then went ahead to rule that President Bush did not have authority to set up the tribunals at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and found the "military commissions" illegal under both military justice law and the Geneva Convention.  The vote was 5-3, with the Chief Justice not taking part.

The Court, in the only other decision, ruled that Arizona's law on the insanity defense does not violate constitutional due process.  The ruling in Clark v. Arizona (05-5966) was written by Justice David H. Souter and divided the Court 6-3, although Justice Breyer also filed a partial dissent and partial concurrence.  The ruling upheld what is called the "Mott rule" in Arizona, barring psychiatric evidence of a mental disorder short of insanity to offset prosecution evidence of criminal intent.  The ruling also upheld Arizona's definition of the insanity defense.

Though Hamdan will surely get the most attention, I suspect Clark might have more points of interest for sentencing fans.

June 29, 2006 at 10:14 AM | Permalink

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