Law Faculty Articles and Research

Will Mrs. Bond Topple Missouri v. Holland?

John C. Eastman, Chapman University

This article was originally published in Cato Supreme Court Review, volume 185, in 2011.


Carol Anne Bond assaulted her former best friend with some chemicals she took from her workplace when she discovered the former friend was carrying her husband's baby. She was prosecuted not by the local district attorney for the simple assault, but by the U.S. Attorney for violating the federal statute that implements the international treaty against the use of chemical weapons. Mrs. Bond claimed that the federal statute under which she was convicted was an unconstitutional overreach of federal power, intruding into areas of core state sovereignty. The Third Circuit held that Mrs. Bond did not even have standing to raise that constitutional challenge. The U.S. Surpreme Court unanimously reversed. This article explores both the Supreme Court's jurisdictional holding and the merits of Mrs. Bond's constitutional challenge that will now be considered on remand to the lower courts. Essentially, the issue is whether the federal government can expand its own constitutional powers by use of the Treaty Clause, and this Article argues that it cannot.