Tuesday, May 12, 2009

U.S. v. Alderman, No. 07-30186 (5-12-09). The 9th holds that the sale of body armor in interstate commerce creates a sufficient nexus between possessing the body armor and commerce to allow for congressional commerce clause authority. The majority (McKeown joined by B. Fletcher) feel that they have to follow the Supremes precedent in Scarborough v. U.S., 31 US 563 (1977) (firearm that travels interstate provides nexus) and 9th Circuit precedent in U.S. v. Cortes, 299 F.3d 1030 (9th Cir. 2002). The majority acknowledges the tension in the changing commerce clause jurisprudence, citing Morrison and Lopez. However, the statute closely tracks the one in Scarborough, and that the requirement that the body armor is sold or offered for sale in intersate commerce is sufficient. Dissenting, Paez argues that precedent does not control post-Lopez, because the connection to interstate commerce for possession by a felon is too attenuated. Section 931 requires no showing by the government that body armor involved a commercial transaction, substantially affected interstate travel, a crime, or possession of a firearm. There must be some connection, otherwise, as Paez argues here, mere intrastate possession of body armor by a felon not part of a comprehensive regulatory scheme and not connected to crime that affects interstate comerce, provides an insufficient commerce clause basis. The deficiency requires reversal.


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