Bond v. United States

PETITIONER: Carol Anne Bond
RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

DOCKET NO.: 09-1227
DECIDED BY: Roberts Court (2010-2016)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

CITATION: 564 US (2011)
GRANTED: Oct 12, 2010
ARGUED: Feb 22, 2011
DECIDED: Jun 16, 2011

Michael R. Dreeben - Deputy Solicitor General, Department of Justice, in support of the petitioner
Paul D. Clement - for the petitioner
Stephen R. McAllister - for amicus curiae in support of the judgment below (appointed by the Court)

Facts of the case

Carol Anne Bond was found guilty of trying to poison her husband's mistress, Myrlinda Haynes, with toxic chemicals at least 24 times over the course of several months. A grand jury in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania charged Bond with two counts of possessing and using a chemical weapon, in violation of a criminal statute implementing the treaty obligations of the United States under the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention. The grand jury also charged Bond with two counts of mail theft. Bond's attorneys argue that the statute was intended to deal with rogue states and terrorists and that their client should have been prosecuted under state law instead. Bond, a laboratory technician, stole the chemical potassium dichromate from the company where she worked. Haynes was not injured. Bond's husband had a child with Haynes while married to Bond. Haynes had contacted police and postal authorities after finding the chemicals at her home. In September 2009, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held that Bond lacked standing to challenge the constitutionality of the statute on the basis of the Tenth Amendment.


Does a criminal defendant, who has been convicted under a federal statute, have standing to challenge the conviction on grounds that the statute is beyond the federal government's enumerated powers and inconsistent with the Tenth Amendment?

Media for Bond v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 22, 2011 in Bond v. United States

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - June 16, 2011 in Bond v. United States

Anthony M. Kennedy:

This case began with a bitter personal dispute, Carol Anne Bond is the petitioner here.

She learned that a woman who was her close friend was pregnant and that the father was Bond's husband.

Bond sought revenge.

She put caustic substances on -- substances on objects the woman was likely to touch like her mailbox and the front door handle and the door handles of the woman's car.

A federal investigation followed and Bond was charged in United States District Court with two counts of violating 18 U.S.C. Section 229.

The Section 229 was enacted by the Congress of the United States or implement provisions of a chemical weapons treaty that was ratified by United States in 1997 and the statute forbids the knowing possession or use non-peaceful purposes of any chemical that can cause death, temporary incapacitation or permanent harm to humans or animals.

Bond raised the constitutional objection to the prosecution.

She argued that by enacting Section 229, Congress exceeded its powers under the constitution.

The statute, Bond argued, intrudes upon the sovereignty and authority of the states.

Relying on the Tenth Amendment, she contended that at least in the present instance the federal treaty cannot be the source of congressional power to regulate or prohibit her conduct.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit concluded that because no state had intervened, Bond lacked standing to challenge the constitutionality of Section 229 on Tenth Amendment grounds.

This Court granted certiorari.

Because the Government unlike its earlier position later did concede that Bond has standing, an amicus curiae was appointed to defend the judgment of the Court of Appeals and hereto the brief and oral argument presented to the Court by the amicus has been -- have been of considerable assistance to the Court.

We do now determine that the judgment of the Court of Appeals must be reversed.

In reaching the conclusion of no standing, the Court for Appeals relied on a single sentence from this Court's -- this 1939 decision in Tennessee Electric Power Company versus TVA.

In that sentence has been the source of disagreement and confusion in various Courts of Appeals.

We now hold that the sentence should be treated as no longer controlling or instructive.

In defense of the Court of Appeals, the amicus invoked the more general principle that a litigant cannot risk his claim for relief on the legal rights or interest of third parties.

In the view of the amicus argue that national government has interfered with state sovereignty in violation of the Tenth Amendment is to assert only a right or an interest pertaining to states as such and not to individuals.

We conclude that is not so.

It is true that the federal structures established these boundaries between the states and the national government for their own integrity.

But federalism has more than one dynamic.

It also secures the freedom of the individual.

It allows states to respond through the enactment of laws, to the initiative of those who seek a voice in shaping the destiny of their own times and by denying any one government complete jurisdiction overall the concerns of public life, federalism helps protect the liberty of the individual from arbitrary power.

Fidelity, the principles of federalism is not for the states alone to vindicate.

An individual has a direct interest in objecting to laws that upset the balance between the national and state governments.

Of course, a person who challenges government action on federalism grounds is subject to Article III in prudential limitations applicable to all litigants.

These include the requirements of an injury in fact traceable to the Government's conduct and redressable by judicial decision.

But when those requirements are met as they are here, there is no further restriction applicable to Tenth Amendment challenges.

The judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed and remanded.On remand, the Court of Appeals may consider the merits of Bond's Tenth Amendment arguments in the first instance.