The prohibition on double jeopardy extends back in human history at least the Roman era. It’s covered in Greek law, the Talmud and of course, English Common Law.
In the United States, the concept of dual sovereignty has been the guiding rule since 1847. The general idea is that the Federal government and the State Governments are both “sovereign” and therefore the prohibition on double jeopardy doesn’t apply. If the State prosecutes a person and then the Federal Government also prosecutes for the same act, the Courts have long held – some thirty-one Justices over 170+ years have expressed their belief in and support for the rule – is just fine.
Now, there are some reasons for the Dual Sovereignty rule. It has long allowed either side to “correct” an injustice, such as happened during the Civil rights era when “people were killed or worse.” And in general, the Feds have only rarely stepped in to charge a person after a state conviction.
But down in Alabama a few years ago (See September 27th Show), a convicted felon on parole was driving a car with a burnt out headlight. Of course, he got stopped. And of course, the Police found the gun he had in his possession. The State of Alabama convicted him for it, and then the Feds stepped in and also convicted him for the same crime.
And that brings us to the Supreme Court hearing in which the Petitioner (Gamble) insists that the Dual Sovereignty component of double Jeopardy should be eliminated. Now… if the Court agrees, he’ll get one sentence or the other. But it is the effect on another possible case that is really the entire reason for this argument.
And that person is Paul Manafort.
In recent days, we have watched the debate over the nomination of a Supreme Court Justice. While the debate rages around things such as abortion, gay rights, women’s rights, and so forth, the single fact remains that these things are rarely the meat and potatoes of what the Supreme Court does. Almost never are those things noticed until after the fact. indeed, very few (if any) questions of any nominee relate to them or to the understanding of how those things might end up affecting our day to day lives. Read the rest of this entry