Gamble v. United States

Facts of the Case

An accused person’s prior possession of the physical means of committing a crime is relevant and admissible because it offers some evidence of the probability of his guilt


Does the Double Jeopardy Clause bar retrial after the trial judge wrongly holds a particular fact to be an element of the offense and then grants a directed verdict of acquittal because the prosecution failed to prove that fact?


“In a 7-2 opinion authored by Justice Samuel Alito, the Court declined to overturn the dual-sovereignty doctrine.The Court first clarified that the dual-sovereignty doctrine is not an exception to the right against double jeopardy, but a corollary to the text of the Fifth Amendment. The Double Jeopardy Clause prohibits individuals from being “twice put in jeopardy . . . for the same offence.” Because an “offence” is determined by law, and laws are determined by a sovereign (the federal or state government), the laws of two sovereigns create two “offences.” The Court found unpersuasive Gamble’s arguments that precedents should be abandoned, including his claim that the incorporation of the Double Jeopardy Clause against the states eroded the theoretical foundation for the dual-sovereignty rule.Justice Clarence Thomas filed a concurring opinion in which he argued for his originalist view that the proper role of stare decisis is subordinate to the text of the Constitution and other duly enacted federal law.Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg filed a dissenting opinion, arguing that the Double Jeopardy Clause should bar “successive prosecutions for the same offense by parts of the whole USA” and that the separate-sovereigns doctrine is based upon a mere “metaphysical subtlety.”Justice Neil Gorsuch filed a dissenting opinion arguing that “[a] free society does not allow its government to try the same individual for the same crime until it’s happy with the result,” yet “the Court today endorses a colossal exception to this ancient rule against double jeopardy.” Justice Gorsuch pointed out the “separate sovereigns” doctrine appears nowhere in the text of the Fifth Amendment and violates the very essence of the right against double jeopardy.”

Case Information

Citation: 587 US (2019)
Granted: Jun 28, 2018
Argued: Dec 6, 2018
Decided: Jun 17, 2019
Case Brief: 2019