Fri. Mar 1st, 2024

ad Brett Kavanaugh not been accused of sexual assault, one of the first cases he would have heard as a Supreme Court Justice would have been that of Herman Gundy, a convicted sex offender. When nominated, last July, Kavanaugh was expected to be confirmed in time for the term that started last October. But the emergence of sexual-assault allegations against him delayed his confirmation vote until October 6th, just after the Court’s first set of oral arguments—which included Gundy’s request to invalidate his federal conviction for failure to register as a sex offender. In June, the Court denied Gundy’s petition. As it turns out, Kavanaugh’s absence from the case likely changed its outcome.

Gundy v. United States was about the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act, known as SORNA, which Congress enacted in 2006. The statute made it a crime, punishable by ten years in prison, for individuals convicted of a sex offense involving a minor to fail to register in each state where they live, work, or study. But Congress gave the Attorney General “the authority to specify the applicability” of these requirements to people convicted before SORNA took effect. In 2007 and in 2011, Attorneys General Alberto Gonzales and Eric Holder said the requirements do apply to such people.

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