Supreme Court Agrees to hear Federal Defender challenge to SORNA

On March 5, 2018, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case concerning whether the Sex Offender Registry Notification Act (SORNA) is unconstitutional on separation of powers grounds. FDNY attorney Sarah Baumgartel filed the certiorari petition in the case, Gundy v. United States, which could potentially affect hundreds of thousands of individuals.

SORNA delegates authority to the Attorney General to decide whether the Act's registration requirements apply to sex offenders who were convicted before SORNA was enacted. This delegation, Mr. Gundy argues, unconstitutionally grants the Attorney General "unfettered discretion to determine who is subject to criminal legislation without an 'intelligible principle.'" Judicial views on this nondelegation issue cut across traditional liberal-conservative divides. Justice Gorsuch, for example, has previously expressed concern about the scope of SORNA's delegation of authority to the Attorney General.

Additional information, including a copy of the certiorari petition filed by Ms. Baumgartel, is available at