On Friday the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal by a woman convicted under a federal law that was meant to curb the existence of chemical weapons. The case is a convoluted one and involves the woman admitting she attempted to poison a former friend who she found out had an affair with her husband.
The law at issue in the case was enacted in 1998 and banned the use of chemical weapons for anything other than a “peaceful purpose.” The law developed from an international chemical weapons convention that was signed in 1993. The goal of the convention was to prevent terrorists from obtaining dangerous weapons of mass destruction.
The woman at the center of this sordid tale, Carol Anne Bond, was a microbiologist who previously worked with a major chemical company, Rohm and Haas. After the police launched an investigation, she admitted to trying to poison her former best friend after learning that the woman had become pregnant by Ms. Bond’s husband.
Ms. Bond took chemicals from Rohm and Haas and spread them on the friend’s mailbox, car doors and house doorknobs over the span of nearly six months. Though cases like this are normally handled by local prosecutors as traditional criminal cases, Ms. Bond was prosecuted under the federal chemical weapons law.
The case presents an unusual opportunity for the justices to consider what to do when Congress’ power to implement international treaties into American law conflicts with the 10th Amendment limits on federal power. Ms. Bond, a Pennsylvanian, was sentenced to six years in prison after pleading guilty. She’s since appealed saying that use of the federal law invaded the powers given to Pennsylvania and other states under the 10th Amendment.
Earlier last year Ms. Bond’s case was heard by the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals which found that her conviction was constitutional. Though the court upheld her previous conviction, it did go out of its way to point out that the federal chemical weapons law turned each kitchen cupboard and cleaning cabinet into a potential chemical weapons cache.
Ms. Bond, who’s being represented by former Solicitor General Paul Clement, says that the federal government exceeded its authority by criminalizing what was local conduct when it implemented the chemical weapons treaty. The government disagrees, saying that Congress has authority under the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause to enact the law as it did.
Read: “U.S. Supreme Court Will Reconsider Case Of Woman Who Tried To Poison Romantic Rival,” by Robert Barnes, published at WashingtonPost.com.
(Lee Davis is a Chattanooga attorney who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 266-0605.)