June 21, 2011

SCOTUS overturns conviction of woman who caused chemical burns



No. 09–1227. Argued February 22, 2011—Decided June 16, 2011

When petitioner Bond discovered that her close friend was pregnant by Bond’s husband, she began harassing the woman. The woman suffered a minor burn after Bond put caustic substances on objects the woman was likely to touch. Bond was indicted for violating 18 U. S. C. §229, which forbids knowing possession or use, for non-peaceful purposes, of a chemical that “can cause death, temporary incapacitation or permanent harm to humans,” §§229(a); 229F(1); (7); (8), and which is part of a federal Act implementing a chemical weapons treaty ratified by the United States. The District Court denied Bond’s motion to dismiss the §229 charges on the ground that the statute exceeded Congress’ constitutional authority to enact. She entered a conditional guilty plea, reserving the right to appeal the ruling on the statute’s validity. She did just that, renewing her Tenth Amendment claim. The Third Circuit, however, accepted the Government’s position that she lacked standing. The Government has since changed its view on Bond’s standing.
Held: Bond has standing to challenge the federal statute on grounds that the measure interferes with the powers reserved to States.

The full pdf format decision is available at link:


While at first glance this may seem like a win for criminals, it actually upholds the Constitution, contrary to current trend where our liberty has been chipped away and reduced to the point that our rights are barely worth the paper they were printed on.

  • Ninth Amendment – Protection of rights not specifically enumerated in the Constitution.
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

This case is hardly the sort of case one might expect to make it to the Supreme Court of the Unites States. Then again, it hardly seems like the sort of case police would make a Federal case in the first place and I am sure her attorney was no Public Defender either.

What we are left with is a case that highlights the way police and prosecutors like to do business. There is a law for everything. If you attract the ire of the system they will come down on you like a ton of bricks with a bunch of shit you never heard of.

Now as we read, this is a case of a wife seeking against her former friend and husband's lover, by leaving caustic chemicals strategically placed where her victim was likely to come in contact and be burned. Now on the one hand, we might say good for the wife. No one likes a home-wrecker anyway. On the other hand of course, the wife might have been a bitch in the first place, and either way, we as a society certainly can't tolerate people running around and inflicting chemical burns on other people no matter what their reason.

Nevertheless, this ruling has overturned her conviction and sets the precedent that no other Americans will be able to be convicted on 18 U. S. C. §229 either, at least not under any similar circumstances anyway. Does that mean it is legal now to run around giving people chemical burns? I doubt it. I am sure there are plenty of other laws on the books that they could pull out in order to throw a person in prison for doing just what she did. So then of course, that begs the question, why did the original prosecutor choose to charge her under a law that was created in order to make the United States compliant with an international treaty to prevent the proliferation of chemical weapons?

18 U.S.C. § 229 : US Code - Section 229: Prohibited activities

(a) Unlawful Conduct. - Except as provided in subsection (b), it
shall be unlawful for any person knowingly -
(1) to develop, produce, otherwise acquire, transfer directly
or indirectly, receive, stockpile, retain, own, possess, or use,
or threaten to use, any chemical weapon; or
(2) to assist or induce, in any way, any person to violate
paragraph (1), or to attempt or conspire to violate paragraph

Why did he make a Federal case out of something that would otherwise be considered run-of-the-mill crime? Were the prosecutors really at that much of a loss to find a law they could prosecute her under? Maybe stretching, looking for a stiffer penalty because the laws they had to work with didn't satisfy their own bloodlust? Perhaps. I did not follow the case from the start and don't know many of the details, but it seems to me there might have been something a little deeper.

Was this a test-case of sorts, to test the viability of charging citizens with what amounts to terrorism for generic criminal acts? Were they trying to make it an act of international terrorism to use common household chemicals for anything other than their "intended" purpose? Were they trying to establish a precedent that would make a potential terrorist of every American who keeps a bottle of bleach and ammonia under the kitchen sink? Sounds a little far-fetched maybe, a bit of a stretch? Maybe about as much as charging this woman under Federal an international chemical weapons laws in the first place.

And let is keep in mind here too, the country we live in today. A country where our Constitutional liberty is undermined at every turn. A country where average Americans are treated like criminals and little children strip-searched when they travel. Where dangerous chemicals are being deliberately pumped into our food, our water, our neighborhoods, our bodies.  Where the President can assassinate Americans without any oversight whatsoever, no warrant, no trial. Where any American labeled a terrorist can be held indefinitely, without trial, without counsel, and without any evidence under the supra-constitutional Patriot Act.

Of course, this ruling is a small victory for liberty, butI am suspicious. Why "they" did not choose to make a stand here too? Guess it just wasn't part of the agenda for the time-being. It seems that for the time being the war on the Constitution may be more limited to a few other Amendments. "Choose your battles" sort of logic I suppose. Or better yet, maybe this ruling was in the interests of more powerful factions than one pissed off housewife.

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