AUSTIN – Attorney General Ken Paxton today commended the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision upholding its longstanding view on states’ rights to prosecute criminals. During oral argument last December, Attorney General Paxton, leading a bipartisan coalition of 36 states, urged the high court to leave the current system in place.
The Supreme Court ruled that a person can be prosecuted for the same criminal conduct in state and federal courts without violating the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment double jeopardy principles because the two systems operate as separate governments. Lawyers for an Alabama man wanted the high court to overturn its previous decisions recognizing the longstanding “separate sovereigns” doctrine.
“For over 170 years, the Supreme Court has recognized repeatedly that if someone violates state and federal law, both governments can prosecute,” Attorney General Paxton said. “The Supreme Court’s latest decision recognizes the original intent of the framers of the Constitution, who regarded the states and the federal government as equals in carrying out justice separately. Importantly, the high court’s ruling preserves federalism, allowing state and federal governments to continue pursuing their own interests without interfering with each other.”
When Texas filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the Supreme Court last November, it was joined by 35 other states – including the 15 most populous – representing, collectively, more than 86 percent of the U.S. population: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
View a copy of the U.S. Supreme Court decision here.