Gamble v. United States [SCOTUSbrief]
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Gamble v. United States [SCOTUSbrief]


In 2008, Terance Gamble was convicted of robbery
in Alabama, served his time. Seven years later, he was pulled over for
a broken tail light. The police then smelled marijuana, searched
his car, and found a couple of guns. Now, since he was a convicted felon, he was
violating the felon in possession laws, both federal and state, and that’s important because
not only was he convicted under Alabama’s law against felons possessing firearms, but
he then was prosecuted and convicted under federal law. So, the issue here is, does that double prosecution
violate the Constitution’s protection against double jeopardy? Double jeopardy protects against being tried
more than once for the same crime. This comes from the Fifth Amendment. If
you’re acquitted the state can’t say, “Oh, now we have more evidence. Let’s try you again.” But interestingly, there’s an exception to
that when there are two sovereigns involved; that is, the states and the federal government
are separate sovereigns and so the states, as happened here, can prosecute completely
separate from whatever the federal government can do. And so the question here is, does that violate
this fundamental constitutional right against double jeopardy? Going back to common law, this is not a new
thing. In old England, there was a big concern about
the crown prosecuting people multiple times if they didn’t like the result they were originally
getting. This even came up in the context of two sovereigns. There were cases where an Englishman was acquitted
of murder in South Africa, in Holland, and then they were brought back and the crown
tried to prosecute them and the courts weren’t having it. And so when the United States was created,
one of the fundamental protections that the framers decided to put in was this protection
against double jeopardy. Now of course, the Fifth Amendment, the Bill
of Rights, originally only applied to the new federal government, uh, and it wasn’t
until much later, uh, in fact, this century, that, uh, the double jeopardy provision was
incorporated or applied to the states. The best argument for Terance Gamble is that
it doesn’t matter which sovereign is prosecuting him, he’s still being tried twice for the
same crime and whatever judicially-made doctrine needs to be changed to protect his constitutional
rights, the Court should follow that. The best argument for the United States is
simply that we might not like the outcome in this or any particular case but we do have
dual sovereigns. States are indeed separate from the federal
government and we can look to the discretion of prosecutors, both federal and state. The federal government sometimes has very good
reason to try someone a second time. We saw this in the Rodney King situation 25
years ago, where the state court acquitted the police officers in the beginning but then
federal prosecutors secured a civil rights violation conviction. The Court should maintain this understanding
that, uh, even if, uh, sometimes we don’t like it, that these are indeed separate sovereigns. And so they want to, uh, continue, uh, keeping, uh, Mr. Gamble’s conviction on the books and-
and keep him in prison until, uh, his full term expires in 2020.

19 Comments

  • Michael Hill

    I have to side with Gamble on this. That's a massive loophole, can't see the Founders supporting 2 different prosecutions like this.

  • professormuro

    Thanks for posting this video; I believe this is the most important case of the current term. I would say that it is difficult to predict the outcome and we will probably see a unique coalition in the majority, with Thomas and Ginsburg joining forces. This poses difficulties for both ideologies, um sorry, interpretive theories. I argue that the Incorporation Doctrine is illegitimate and so the Fifth Amendment does not prohibit dual prosecution. No one on the Supreme Court, or anyone else besides me, rejects Incorporation. What should be done here is the defense for Gamble is the federal law that he was prosecuted under is unconstitutional as it is an excessive use of Interstate Commerce power. The statute 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) is too broad and allows for the continued trend of federalizing crime. Yes, think Lopez! This is beyond the purview of interstate commerce. But the argument they are using about overturning precedent is not the most effective. See the brief . . . https://www.supremecourt.gov/DocketPDF/17/17-646/62536/20180904142141905_17-646%20ts.pdf

    I will stay tuned for the decision!

  • Corey Katzelnick

    People: Our liberties are safe, here in America we have something called a Double Jeopardy Clause

    U.S. Government: But look, injustices! We must have a SECOND prosecution!

    Accused: Injustices!? Precisely! You are saying it, yourself!

  • Sathyajith Shankar

    I'm with Gamble on this, but what about federal pardons?
    If you're convicted and pardoned, it seems unfair to prevent States from locking you up

  • Brian Cameron

    🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸
    I agree!!! The governments only have ONE crack at the Apple 🍎!! The Fed and the States need to choose who is going to prosecute but only ONE can prosecute him.
    And two there’s no damages or victim. He didn’t shoot anybody!!!

  • Satimy

    One wonders if the government can restrict your 2nd amendment rights from a felony conviction, why they can't restrict the rest of your liberties.

  • JT 7

    There is no basis to reinvent longstanding legal interpretation of separate sovereigns powers. Sorry Gamble don't break federal and state laws!

  • TradeBasedOnNaturalResourcesAndClimateNotSlaveLabor

    Seems to me the "race to the courthouse" argument is easily solved by giving prosecutorial authority to the arresting authority. For example… If the FBI arrests a man, then the federal government has the right to prosecute.

  • Joseph Loughrey

    While I am pretty sure the probable cause was fictitious, as there was no grass found. the possession charges are legit.

  • Douglas Roper

    The federal government doesn't know it's place. Prosecutions should be left up to the states, except for rare instances when federal law is needed. This entire monstrosity called government is turning into a totalitarian/tyrannical cancer!

  • Ashley Alvarez

    My husband did 5 years in the state for unauthorized use of a firearm being a felon as he was getting released the federal government picked him up from the state and now they are charging him for the same gun and the same crime with "felon possession of a firearm" and they gave him an eight years in the Federal for that which he is currently doing his time for. although they are two different charges it is the same gun and the same crime, I am being hopeful that gamble wins his case!

  • Jmarqu2

    It’s wrong to say that this case is the same as the Rodney King officers case. The cops were acquitted of state assault charges, and convicted of federal civil rights violations.

    That’s not the same thing as the state and feds trying you for the exact same felon in possession charge.

    Exact is exact. That’s clear double jeopardy, in my opinion. No wiggle room at all.

    While I am sympathetic to defendants being charged with different, non exact crimes, for ostensibly the same behavior. I do believe this must be watched extremely close. However, I think there is significant daylight between assault and battery charges and civil rights violations. There are other offenses, while technically different, there is barely, if any, daylight between them and is more likely double jeopardy.

  • Jonathan Sterling

    The silliest argument for double jeopardy is the "dual sovereigns" exception itself. As in the oral argument… The idea I am a citizen of both my state and my country sounds silly. I have never thought of myself as a citizen of the state in which I live. I have always thought of myself as being an American citizen, a citizen of the United States. If people were citizens of their own states, then there would be border checkpoints and states could control immigration. I've never heard of anything suggesting that being a resident of a state is anything even remotely resembling being a citizen of that state.

    Then again, being joined by Ruth Ginsburg and the American Civil Liberties Union makes me very uneasy… Being opposed by Alito is no big deal.

  • Martin Ljubic

    A man is charged with murder, and convicted. Death is the
    punishment. Same man is charge again with murder, again
    convicted, Death is the punishment. I would like to ask, the
    now PSYCHO SCOTUS, how do you kill him a second time,
    AFTER the first court ruling carries out the death sentence?
    **Double Jeopardy is there for that reason- you can't kill a man twice!!
    *But, GOOD OLD Justice Clarence Thomas, thinks it can be done!!*
    *SCOTUS, now in a state of PSYCHO LOGIC … in the twilight zone!!*
    *Or perhaps reliving GROUNDHOG DAY!!*

  • Jonathan Sterling

    I love the decision, not for what's right, but for my own personal satisfaction. It is a clear indication our government is powerful enough to ignore our Constitution. The Supreme Court not only allowed what the Double Jeopardy Clause was intended to prevent, it allows worse. The Double Jeopardy Clause obviously was intended to prevent the government from re-prosecuting ordinary people for the same crime until it achieved a conviction. The Supreme Court not only enabled that, it enabled government to CONVICT ordinary people multiple times for the same crime. And it's a very bad sign.

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