Monday, June 28, 2021

Was Briggs correctly decided?

Briggs was the 2020 Supreme Court case that read the UCMJ's no-statute-of-limitations-for-capital cases to apply to rape even though the death penalty is unconstitutional for rape of an adult woman. Professor Sherry F. Kolb (left) of Cornell Law School, writing at Justia's "Verdict" feature, has her doubts. Her conclusion:

If nothing turned on how the Court answered the question presented, the Justices might well have reasoned that rape carried a five-year statute of limitations. That is the more persuasive interpretation of the statutory text. But something turned on the resolution of the issue: the convictions of three rapists that the Justices likely wanted to see punished. We can thus conclude that when the Court wishes to reach a particular result in a statutory interpretation case, it reaches that result. And therefore, when the Court issues what appears to be a disturbing opinion in a statutory interpretation case, there too, it has reached the result that it wanted to reach. They can no longer don the T-shirt that says “The Statute Made Me Do It.”

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