For the second time this week Justice Neil Gorsuch has joined the Supreme Court’s liberal bloc to hand liberals a 5-4 victory.
Today’s ruling struck down a federal statute finding it violated a sex offender’s constitutional rights.
The Hill’s Jacqueline Thomsen has more:
Andre Haymond had previously been convicted of possessing child pornography, and the government discovered that he may have been in possession of the illegal images while he was on supervised release.
The judge overseeing his case found a “preponderance of evidence” that Haymond was in possession of the child porn, rather than using the standard of “reasonable doubt.” As a result, the judge sentenced Haymond under a federal law that required a mandatory minimum sentence of five years.
A federal appeals court found that while parts of the lower court ruling were incorrect, there was still enough evidence to find that Haymond had possessed the images, in violation of that federal statute.
But a divided Supreme Court found Wednesday that the statute violated his right to a trial by jury. Gorsuch wrote that the court does “not hesitate to hold that the statute violates the Fifth and Sixth Amendments.”
The unorthodox majority compromised Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer, and Gorsuch.