Carol Anne Bond, of Landsdale, Pa., was sentenced to six years in federal prison for burning her husband’s mistress’ thumb. The Supreme Court today decided to hear her court challenge, which argues that her case should have been handled by local authorities, not the feds.
Why are the feds involved? Because Bond allegedly spread deadly chemicals around her enemy’s house. If Bond had just tried to shoot her, she’d be dealing with local attempted murder charges. But her use of chemicals caused Bond to run afoul of federal anti-terrorism laws. The Associated Press describes:
Her argument is that the case should have been dealt with by local authorities, as most crimes are. Instead, a federal grand jury indicted her on two counts of possessing and using a chemical weapon. The charges were based on a federal anti-terrorism law passed to fulfill the United States’ international treaty obligations under the 1993 Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction.
Now, clearly the intent of the law is not to go after women who engage in Law & Order-ready revenge plots against the pregnant mistresses of their wayward husbands. The feds got involved because the victim called the U.S. Postal Service as her mailbox was also poisoned. Bond was subsequently arrested by postal inspectors.
Reason's Jacob Sullum detailed the case back in 2011. Bond’s case has already been before the Supreme Court once just to get permission to appeal, which federal prosecutors fought. Now the Supreme Court decided to hear her actual challenge.
Her case has primarily been approached as a 10th Amendment matter. Reason Contributor Ilya Somin wrote in 2011 that the Bond case was an important example of how federalism is meant to preserve individual liberty and that the 10th Amendment didn’t just refer to state’s rights.
It’s appropriate, then, to keep tabs on this case in the wake of the angry responses to Aaron Swartz’s federal prosecution and his subsequent suicide. The federal government clearly has no legitimate interest in getting involved in Bond’s case. So we’ll have to see if the current Supreme Court rules that this law overstepped the boundaries between federal and state authority.