Bond v. United States
The case stems from the prosecution of a Pennsylvania microbiologist who used toxic chemicals to try to settle a personal score…
The question before the high court is whether the government’s broad assertion of federal authority in a local criminal case comports with the structural limits of the US Constitution.
Under the Constitution, the federal government’s powers are restricted to those listed by the framers of the Constitution. All other powers, including general police powers, are left to state and local governments…
But what if the federal government enters an international treaty which extends into areas of state jurisdiction, can it enforce the treaty even though it would be treading on states’ traditional ground? It’s doubtful the framers intended for the federal government to be hamstrung at the negotiating table by minor overlaps of state power. On the other hand,
“In principle, your position constitutionally would allow the president and the Senate, not the House, to do anything through a treaty that is not specifically within the prohibitions of the … Constitution,” he said.
Breyer said that he doubted the framers wrote the Constitution intending that result.
The case also dredges up a 1920 Supreme Court case, Missouri v. Holland. Here is a facts summary from Bloomberg:
In 1916, the US and Great Britain signed a treaty protecting migratory birds that were important as a source of food and in controlling harmful insects. The birds traveled through Canada and parts of the US but were in danger of extermination. The Migratory Bird Act was passed to carry out the terms of the treaty. Missouri objected because an earlier act of Congress that attempted, by itself and not in pursuance of a treaty, to regulate killing migratory birds within the states was held unconstitutional in district court. Missouri argued that because Congress had no power to pass this law without the treaty, they should gain power because they are enforcing a treaty.
Wikipedia’s case summary:
protection of a State’s quasi-sovereign right to regulate the taking of game is a sufficient jurisdictional basis, apart from any pecuniary interest, for a bill by a State to enjoin enforcement of federal regulations over the subject alleged to be unconstitutional, and that the federal government’s ability to make treaties is supreme over any state concerns about such treaties having abrogated any states’ rights arising under the Tenth Amendment… It is also notable for Justice Holmes’ reference to the idea of a living constitution.