(Phoenix, Ariz. -- May 17, 2010) Attorney General Terry Goddard commended the U.S. Supreme Court's decision today that reversed a lower court ruling and affirmed the right of federal officials to hold inmates considered "sexually dangerous" after their prison terms end.
Goddard joined a multi-state amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court last year in support of the federal law. That brief noted that the 21 states, including Arizona, had already enacted sex offender civil commitment laws similar to the federal law.
"The U.S. Supreme Court has wisely upheld a federal law that complements and supports Arizona's law," Goddard said. "These laws properly allow for additional confinement of sexually dangerous felons until it is safe to release them."
In 2006, President George W. Bush signed the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act authorizing the civil commitment of sexually dangerous federal prisoners. Last year, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Congress overstepped its authority in allowing the additional confinement.
In today's decision, the high court disagreed and overturned the appeals court ruling. Writing for the 7-2 majority, Justice Stephen Breyer said, "We conclude that the Constitution gives Congress legislative power sufficient to enact" the law.
Goddard said he agreed with the public safety argument made by Solicitor General Elena Kagan, who was nominated last week to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. Kagan, who successfully argued the government's case in front of the high court, compared the government's authority to commit sexual predators to its power to quarantine federal inmates whose sentences have been completed but carry a highly contagious and deadly disease.