Sex offender registry sparks Supreme Court debate

By Lydia Wheeler…

Supreme Court justices on Tuesday grappled with how much power Congress can pass on to federal agencies in a case that could change the way Capitol Hill legislates.

The justices on the eight-member court heard arguments over whether Congress crossed a line in 2006 when it passed the federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act that was signed into law by then-President George W. Bush.

Herman Gundy, who was convicted in 2005 of raping an 11-year-old girl and then indicted in 2013 for failing to register as a sex offender in Maryland and New York, is challenging the law’s registration requirements.

He argued Congress had violated the nondelegation doctrine in allowing the U.S. attorney general to make the law retroactive.

The rarely enforced principle of administrative law prohibits Congress from transferring its legislative powers to federal agencies without an “intelligible principle” or guidance on which to base its regulations.

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