Federal law should not supersede state statutes
In a bizarre case that originated in Pennsylvania with a love triangle, the Supreme Court of the United States on Monday rejected overreach by prosecutors and by political activists who sought to convert it into a broader repudiation of federal authority.
Carole Bond of Lansdale was convicted two years ago of attempting to poison her estranged husband's lover. Bond worked for a chemical company, from which she stole some toxic materials while buying others. She put them in contact with her rival by spreading them on doorknobs, car door handles, a mailbox and so on. The victim suffered a chemical burn and called federal authorities, who charged Bond under the Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Act of 1998. Congress had passed the law to implement provisions of an international treaty.
The court found, unanimously and sensibly, that authorities should not have used the federal law to supersede Pennsylvania's criminal statutes, which cover such conduct.
Also sensibly, the court rejected an effort by some right-wing activists to convert the case into the means to diminish Congress' authority to make laws to support international treaties, for which there is clear, abundant precedent.
The court preserved federal authority, but in its appropriate realm. The decision further upholds federalism.