Wednesday, September 11, 2013

UNITED STATES v. ROBBINS

Original Article

UNITED STATES v. ROBBINS
UNITED STATES of America, Appellee, v. Nathan ROBBINS, aka Nathan L.H. Robbins, Defendant–Appellant.

Docket No. 12–3148–cr.

Argued: June 20, 2013. -- September 03, 2013

Before CALABRESI, CABRANES, and SACK, Circuit Judges.
James P. Egan (Lisa A. Peebles, on the brief) Federal Public Defender's Office, Northern District of New York, Syracuse, N.Y., for Defendant–Appellant.Brenda K. Sannes, Assistant United States Attorney (Lisa M. Fletcher, Assistant United States Attorney, on the brief), for Richard S. Hartunian, United States Attorney, Northern District of New York, Syracuse, N.Y., for Appellee.

In August 2011, after traveling from New York to Nevada, defendant-appellant Robbins knowingly failed to update his registration as a sex offender, as he was required to do under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (“SORNA”), 42 U.S.C. § 16913. He subsequently pled guilty to violating 18 U.S.C. § 2250(a), which makes it a crime for someone who is required to register under SORNA to travel in interstate commerce and knowingly fail to update his registration. Despite his plea, Robbins retained the right to challenge the constitutionality of the statutes he admitted violating, and he brings just such a challenge here.

This Court has previously held that Congress acted within its powers under the Constitution's Commerce Clause when it enacted SORNA. See United States v. Guzman, 591 F.3d 83 (2d Cir.2010). Since then, however, the Supreme Court has revisited and further clarified—if that is the appropriate word—the reach of Congress's power “[t]o regulate Commerce ․ among the several States.” U.S. Const. art. I, § 8, cl. 3; see Nat'l. Fed'n. of Indep. Bus. v. Sebelius, 132 S.Ct. 2566 (2012) (“NFIB ”). Robbins invites us to revisit our holding in Guzman in light of the Supreme Court's decision in NFIB.

We decline Robbins' invitation not because his arguments all lack force, nor because the constitutionality of SORNA—particularly when applied within the states—is beyond question, see United States v.. Kebodeaux, 570 U.S. ––––, No. 12–418, slip op. at 5 (U.S. June 24, 2013) (Roberts, C.J., concurring in the judgment) (“The fact of a prior federal conviction, by itself, does not give Congress a freestanding, independent, and perpetual interest in protecting the public from the convict's purely intrastate conduct.”), but because the constitutionality of SORNA as applied to Robbins remains unaffected by any limitations on Congress's Commerce Clause power that may be found in NFIB. Still bound by the precedent set in Guzman, we therefore AFFIRM Robbins' conviction.


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