Justice Clarence Thomas believes it’s time the Supreme Court moves to overturn “demonstrably erroneous” decisions made in the past.
“When faced with a demonstrably erroneous precedent, my rule is simple: We should not follow it,” Thomas wrote in a concurring opinion in a double-jeopardy case decided Monday, according to The Hill.
The “dual sovereignty doctrine,” which pertains to a person facing both state and federal charges for the same offense, was at issue in the decision by the court which ruled not to overturn the ruling in the case of an Alabama man in Gamble v. United States.
The use of the “stare decisis” doctrine, according to Thomas, should be revisited by the high court, saying it “elevates demonstrably erroneous decisions — meaning decisions outside the realm of permissible interpretation — over the text of the Constitution and other duly enacted federal law.”
“By applying demonstrably erroneous precedent instead of the relevant law’s text — as the court is particularly prone to do when expanding federal power or crafting new individual rights — the court exercises ‘force’ and ‘will,’ two attributes the people did not give it,” Thomas wrote.
Justices should be using “mere judgement” by following “the correct, original meaning of the laws we are charged with applying,” Thomas contended.
Ruling that the Fifth Amendment’s Double Jeopardy Clause was not being violated, the Supreme Court decision Monday dealt with the case of an Alabama man who was convicted of a state gun possession charge after pleading guilty. He was then indicted in federal court for the same charge after pleading guilty again, only to appeal the decision later on grounds that it was a violation of double jeopardy.
“Although the dual-sovereignty rule is often dubbed an ‘exception’ to the double jeopardy right, it is not an exception at all,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the opinion. “On the contrary, it follows from the text that defines that right in the first place.”
“An ‘offence’ is defined by a law, and each law is defined by a sovereign,” Alito wrote, explaining that multiple prosecutions for the same “offence” are banned under the Double Jeopardy Clause, but adding that “where there are two sovereigns, there are two laws, and two ‘offences.'”
The ruling could potentially affect the case against former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort in New York, Fox News reported:
This clears a path for prosecutors in New York to continue their case against Manafort, who already has been convicted of federal crimes that include bank and tax fraud. Had the court ruled the other way in Monday’s case, Gamble v. United States, and eliminated the dual sovereignty doctrine, a pardon from President Trump would have left Manafort free and clear.
But with the doctrine still in place, the New York case complicates matters since presidential pardons only affect federal cases, not state ones.
That indictment charged Manafort, who is awaiting a trial, with 16 counts including conspiracy, mortgage fraud, and falsifying business records, similar charges to those related to his federal convictions.
The decision by the Supreme Court Monday saw another case in which Trump appointees, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, were on opposing sides. While Kavanaugh sided with Alito, Thomas and others, Gorsuch joined Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the dissent.
“A free society does not allow its government to try the same individual for the same crime until it’s happy with the result,” Gorsuch wrote, denouncing the idea that it anyone could be charged for the same thing in two separate cases.
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