One-upping Supreme Court Justices

What would you do if you found an error in a U.S. Supreme Court Justice’s reasoning? The men and woman (sadly a singular now) who are considered to be the residents of the highest ivory tower. The most brilliant legal minds in America. Those with the final say. Would it make your day, would it stroke your ego to find an error in their reasoning for one of their court decisions?

Well, I will never have such privilege, so you are going to have to ask Dwight Sullivan, a colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve who now works for the Air Force as a civilian defense lawyer handling death penalty appeals.

First, if you haven’t already, catch yourself up with my recent post regarding a Supreme Court decision on capital punishment for child rapists. Then read on.

Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion stated that a child rapist could face the ultimate penalty in only six states — not in any of the 30 other states that have the death penalty, and not under the jurisdiction of the federal government either. However, Col. Sullivan pointed out that the Congress, in fact, revised the sex crimes section of the Uniform Code of Military Justice in 2006 to add child rape to the military death penalty.

The news broke out first on the New York Times on Tuesday. Shortly thereafter, the Department of Justice admitted that the government lawyers should have been aware of the new law and should have informed the Supreme Court. The parties to any U.S. Supreme Court cases can request reconsideration. It will be interesting if such request will be filed and, more importantly, granted.


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