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Court to rule on sex offender law

The Supreme Court, granting review of three cases Monday, agreed to settle the constitutionality of a 2005 law giving federal officials authority to order the long-term confinement of individuals considered to be sexually dangerous (U.S. v. Comstock, 08-1224).

In an important case on the scope of “Miranda rights,” the Court said it would decide whether those warnings to a suspect in police custody must exclude an explicit assurance that the individual may have a lawyer in the room while questioning goes on (Florida v. Powell, 08-1175).

The third new case tests whether lawsuits seeking to recover misspent federal funds are barred if the information behind the lawsuits came out in state or local agency reports or audits, rather than in a federal proceeding.  The Justices took the advice of the U.S. Solicitor General in agreeing to hear Graham County Soil & Water, et al., v. U.S. ex rel. Wilson (08-304).

In a case with high visibility growing out of the efforts of former Vice President Cheney and other high officials to discredit critics of the Bush Administration’s reasons for going to war in Iraq, the Court refused to revive a damages lawsuit filed against Cheney and others for allegedly leaking to the press the fact that a prominent critic’s wife was a secret CIA agent. Without comment, the Court turned down the appeal by that former agent, Valerie Plame Wilson, and her husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV (Wilson, et al., v. Libby, et al., 08-1043).  The Wilsons sued Cheney, his former chief of staff I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, former senior White House aide Karl C. Rove, and former Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage.  The D.C. Circuit Court found that the Wilsons has no constitutional claims they could pursue.

The order list is available here. Filings in these cases are below the jump.

Docket: 08-304
Title: Graham County Soil and Water Conservation District, et al. v. United States, ex rel. Wilson
Issue: Whether federal courts have jurisdiction over False Claims Act suits based on revelations in administrative reports or audits issued by state or local governments, as opposed to the federal government.

Docket: 08-1175
Title:  Florida v. Powell
Issue: Must a suspect be expressly advised to his right to counsel during questioning and if so, does the failure to provide this express advice vitiate Miranda v. Arizona?

Docket: 08-1224
Title: United States v. Comstock
Issue: Whether Congress had the constitutional authority to enact 18 U.S.C. 4248, which authorizes court-ordered civil commitment by the federal government of (1) “sexually dangerous” persons who are already in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons, but who are coming to the end of their federal prison sentences, and (2) “sexually dangerous” persons who are in the custody of the Attorney General because they have been found mentally incompetent to stand trial.