U.S. Supreme Court will consider case of woman who tried to poison romantic rival

A scorned woman’s attempt to poison her romantic rival has for the second time raised enough constitutional questions to garner the Supreme Court’s attention.

The court announced Friday that it would consider again the case against Carol Anne Bond.

Bond, a Pennsylvania microbiologist, had tried to harm her best friend after learning that the woman was pregnant with a child fathered by Bond’s husband, Clifford.

Bond had spread toxic chemicals on her friend’s car door and mailbox, but Myrlinda Haynes suffered only a moderate injury to her fingers.

Federal authorities prosecuted Bond under a terrorism law intended to enforce an international treaty: the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction.

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Such a prosecution, Bond’s attorney told the court, intruded on the police powers reserved to the states.

“A domestic dispute culminating in a thumb burn is not an obvious candidate for a federal prosecution, let alone one under a statute designed to implement the Chemical Weapons Convention,” wrote Bond’s attorney, former George W. Bush administration solicitor general Paul D. Clement.

“But such prosecutions are the inevitable result of the government’s view of its unlimited authority under the treaty power.”

When the Bond case first came to the Supreme Court, the issue was whether she even had a right to challenge the law that she was convicted of violating. The court ruled unanimously that she did have standing and sent the case back for review by lower courts.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit then ruled that the law had been properly applied to Bond and that under a Supreme Court precedent that dates to 1920, “there can be no dispute about the validity of [a] statute that implements a valid treaty.”

Bond is asking the Supreme Court to revisit that decision and find that the statute “goes far beyond what is necessary to implement the Chemical Weapons Convention and intrudes on matters of traditional state concern.”

Haynes had demanded that local authorities prosecute Bond, but they declined. The federal charges were prompted after Haynes complained to the post office that Bond had spread the chemicals on her mailbox.

Bond pleaded guilty to four counts of violating the domestic statutes required to enforce the chemical arms treaty, and she was sentenced to prison in 2008. She was released in August.

The case is among several the justices decided to take Friday. Some or all may be heard in the court’s final round of oral arguments in April, although the justices did not make that announcement. If not heard then, the cases would be held over until the court’s next term, which begins in October.

Among the cases were three involving investors who say they were duped by R. Allen Stanford. Stanford was convicted last year of organizing a $7 billion Ponzi scheme and sentenced to 110 years in prison.

Lower courts have agreed to let lawsuits proceed in state court against law firms and outside companies that investors allege had a role in the fraud. At issue is a 1998 law enacted to keep ­class-action securities fraud cases in federal court.

Robert Barnes has been a Washington Post reporter and editor since 1987. He has covered the Supreme Court since November 2006.
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