Marshall v. United States 8212 5881, No. 72

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtBURGER
Citation38 L.Ed.2d 618,414 U.S. 417,94 S.Ct. 700
PartiesRobert Edward MARSHALL, Petitioner, v. UNITED STATES. —5881
Decision Date09 January 1974
Docket NumberNo. 72

414 U.S. 417
94 S.Ct. 700
38 L.Ed.2d 618
Robert Edward MARSHALL, Petitioner,

v.

UNITED STATES.

No. 72—5881.
Argued Oct. 16 and 17, 1973.
Decided Jan. 9, 1974.

Syllabus

Petitioner, who had three prior felony convictions, moved for commitment as a narcotic addict pursuant to Title II of the Narcotic Rehabilitation Act of 1966 (NARA), following a fourth felony conviction. The District Court held that the NARA's two-prior-felony exclusion precluded the requested commitment, rejecting petitioner's post-sentence motion to vacate his sentence on the ground that the two-prior-felony exclusion violated equal protection as embodied in the Fifth Amendment. The Court of Appeals affirmed. Held: Title II of NARA does not deny due process or equal protection by excluding from rehabilitative commitment, in lieu of penal incarceration, addicts with two or more prior felony convictions, since Congress could rationally assume that an addict with a multiple-felony record is likely to benefit less from rehabilitative treatment, present a possible impediment to the successful treatment of others, and be a greater threat to society upon release, because of that record. Pp. 422—430.

(a) In adopting the two-felony exclusion Congress sought to exclude from NARA treatment (1) those less likely to be rehabilitated thereby and (2) those with a 'history of serious crimes.' Pp. 423—425.

(b) Congress could reasonably assume that because of the nature of addiction treatment the multiple-felony offender would less likely benefit from and might interfere with a rehabilitation program. Pp. 425, 428.

(c) Congress should have a wide latitude in formulating an experimental program like NARA, involving as it does medical and scientific uncertainties. Pp. 427—428.

(d) In excluding multiple offenders Congress could safeguard that experimental program from possible improper exploitation and also avoid a possible unacceptable risk to society represented by a reduced level of deterrence. Pp. 429—430.

470 F.2d 34, affirmed.

Page 418

James F. Hewitt, San Francisco, Cal., for petitioner.

Jewell S. Lafontant, Washington, D.C., for respondent.

Mr. Chief Justice BURGER delivered the opinion of the Court.

We granted certiorari to consider petitioner's claim that the provisions of Title II of the Narcotic Addict Rehabilitation Act of 1966, 18 U.S.C. §§ 4251—4255, deny due process and equal protection by excluding from discretionary rehabilitative commitment, in lieu of penal incarceration, addicts with two or more prior felony convictions. The Circuits are in apparent conflict on this question. See the opinion of the Court of Appeals in this case, sub. nom. Marshall v. Parker, 470 F.2d 34, (CA9), and Watson v. United States, 141 U.S.App.D.C. 335, 439 F.2d 442 (1970); United States v. Hamilton, 149 U.S.App.D.C. 295, 462 F.2d 1190 (1972); United States v. Bishop, 469 F.2d 1337 (CA1 1972); and Macias v. United States, 464 F.2d 1292 (CA5 1972), cert. pending, No. 72—5539.

(1)

Petitioner, Robert Edward Marshall, pleaded guilty to an indictment charging him with entering a bank with intent to commit a felony, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a). At sentencing, petitioner requested that he be considered for treatment as a narcotic addict pursuant to Tit. II of the Narcotic Addict Rehabilitation Act of

Page 419

1966 (NARA). The sentencing judge, after noting petitioner's prior felony convictions for burglary, forgery, and possession of a firearm, concluded that the exclusion of persons with two prior convictions from the discretionary provisions of the Act as set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 4251(f)(4)1 did not permit commitment under

Page 420

NARA. Petitioner was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4208(a)(2), but the District Judge recommended that petitioner receive treatment for narcotics addiction while incarcerated.2

Ten months after being sentenced, petitioner moved to vacate his sentence under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 on the ground that the two-prior-felony exclusion of NARA under § 4251(f)(4) violates equal protection as embodied in the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

The District Judge took note of Watson v. United States, supra, but declined to follow that holding. The District Judge also noted that there was no showing, as in Watson, supra, that petitioner's prior convictions and his drug addicition were related3 and since his prior convictions did not relate to traffic in narcotics, the provisions

Page 421

of 18 U.S.C. § 4251(f)(2) did not apply. The District Judge determined that, given the purposes of the statute, Congress had not acted arbitrarily in providing different disposition standards for convicted persons with records of prior felony convictions from those without such convictions, these classifications being related to eligibility for rehabilitative commitment under NARA.

The Court of Appeals viewed petitioner's § 2255 petition as a motion under Rule 35 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure for correction of an illegal sentence, and held the statutory classification constitutionally permissible, noting its disagreement with the decisions in Watson, supra, and United States v. Hamilton, supra. Viewing the Act in its entirety,4 the Court of Appeals concluded that Congress expressly limited the reach of the Act to addicts most likely to be rehabilitated through treatment and provided an exclusion as to convicted persons having two or more prior convictions.

Concluding there is no 'fundamental right' to rehabilitation from narcotics addiction at public expense after conviction of a crime, and there being no 'suspect' classification under the statutory scheme, the Court of Appeals considered the correct standard to be whether the statu-

Page 422

tory classification bore 'some relevance to the purpose for which the classification is made.' Baxstrom v. Herold, 383 U.S. 107, 111, 86 S.Ct. 760, 762, 15 L.Ed.2d 620 (1966); Dandridge v. Williams, 397 U.S. 471, 90 S.Ct. 1153, 25 L.Ed.2d 491 (1970). The court reasoned that Congress adopted the challenged standards in an effort to restrict eligibility to those most likely to respond to treatment and held that Congress could not be said to have acted irrationally in so doing. The District Court's denial of petitioner's motion to vacate his sentence was affirmed, 470 F.2d 34 (CA9 1972). We granted certiorari, 410 U.S. 954, 93 S.Ct. 1429, 35 L.Ed.2d 686 (1973). We agree with the District Court's and the Court of Appeals' reading of the statute and affirm.

(2)

Petitioner concedes that the concept of equal protection as embodied in the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment, see Bolling v. Sharpe, 347 U.S. 497, 74 S.Ct. 693, 98 L.Ed. 884 (1954), does not require that all persons be dealt with identically, but rather that there be some 'rational basis' for the statutory distinctions made, McGinnis v. Royster, 410 U.S. 263, 270, 93 S.Ct. 1055, 1060, 35 L.Ed.2d 282 (1973), or that they 'have some relevance to the purpose for which the classification is made.' Baxstrom v. Herold, supra, 383 U.S., at 111, 86 S.Ct., at 763; Rinaldi v. Yeager, 384 U.S. 305, 309, 86 S.Ct. 1497, 1499, 16 L.Ed.2d 577 (1966). See also James v. Strange, 407 U.S. 128, 92 S.Ct. 2027, 32 L.Ed.2d 600 (1972); Humphrey v. Cady, 405 U.S. 504, 92 S.Ct. 1048, 31 L.Ed.2d 394 (1972). He argues that no such nexus exists under the classification provided by the challenged statute.

The broad purpose of Congress in enacting NARA, as set forth in the Act itself, was:

'(T)hat certain persons charged with or convicted of violating Federal criminal laws, who are determined to be addicted to narcotic drugs, and likely to be rehabilitated through treatment, should, in lieu of prosecution or sentencing, be civilly committed for confinement and treatment designed to

Page 423

effect their restoration to health, and return to society as useful members.' 42 U.S.C. § 3401.

See also H.R.Rep.No.1486, 89th Cong., 2d Sess., 7 (1966), 1966 U.S.Code Cong. & Admin.News, pp. 4245, 4248 ('to provide for the treatment and rehabilitation of narcotic addicts when they are charged with or convicted of offenses against the United States'); S.Rep.No.1667, 89th Cong., 2d Sess., 12 (1966). Congress recognized that some relationship between drug addiction and crime probably existed, and concluded that prosecution and imprisonment of all addicts, without more, would not cure addiction or retard the rising addiction rate, and that a rehabilitative rather than a purely penal approach to the problem was called for. Id., at 13, 17.

It was not the purpose of Congress, however, to make every addict eligible for civil commitment simply by reason of addiction. The congressional intent in adopting the statutory exclusion based on prior convictions which is challenged here is somewhat less explicitly defined,5 but the objectives emerge clearly when the Act is read as a whole. Having recognized some nexus between drug addiction and crime, Congress specifically sought to insure that any program aimed at providing for the treatment of drug addiction would not hinder

Page 424

traditional efforts to deal effectively with the strictly criminal aspects of the problem.6 The most explicit statement of congressional intent is found in the House Report:

'The practical effect of the implementation of the law provided for in the bill, is that strict punishment can be meted out where required to the hardened criminal, while justice can be tempered with judgment and fairness in those cases where it is to the best interest of society and the individual that such a course be followed.

'The definition of 'eligible individual' as set forth in the bill insures that the persons considered as candidates for civil commitment will not include criminals charged with violent crimes or be those whose records disclose a history of serious crimes.'7 H.R.Rep.No.1486, at 9—10; 1966 U.S.Code Cong. & Admin.News, pp....

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269 practice notes
  • Lewis v. United States, No. 78-1595
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • February 27, 1980
    ...distinctions made ... or ... they 'have some relevance to the purpose for which the classification is made.'" Marshall v. United States, 414 U.S. 417, 422 (1974), quoting from McGinnis v. Royster, 410 U.S. 263, 270 (1973), and Baxstrom v. Herold, 383 U.S. 107, 111 (1966). See Vance v. Bradl......
  • Benham v. Edwards, No. 80-9052
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • May 27, 1982
    ...deemed sufficient to necessitate strict scrutiny for classifications pertaining to involuntary confinement. Marshall v. United States, 414 U.S. 417, 94 S.Ct. 700, 38 L.Ed.2d 618 (1974). Although insanity acquittees may be somewhat isolated from the political process, they would appear to be......
  • Keker v. Procunier, Civ. No. S-74-348.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • August 8, 1975
    ...and regulatory classifications vary in accordance with the interests affected. Marshall v. Parker, 470 F.2d 34 (9th Cir. 1972), affirmed 414 U.S. 417, 94 S.Ct. 700, 38 398 F. Supp. 762 L.Ed.2d 618 (1974). In the typical case, courts test challenged statutes and regulations by the traditiona......
  • Hallinan v. Scarantino, NO. 5:20-HC-2088-FL
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Eastern District of North Carolina
    • June 11, 2020
    ...broad.’ ") (quoting Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11, 38, 25 S.Ct. 358, 49 L.Ed. 643 (1905) and Marshall v. United States, 414 U.S. 417, 427, 94 S.Ct. 700, 38 L.Ed.2d 618 (1974) ). In light of the countervailing public interest concerns set forth above and considering the scope of rel......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
264 cases
  • Lewis v. United States, No. 78-1595
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • February 27, 1980
    ...distinctions made ... or ... they 'have some relevance to the purpose for which the classification is made.'" Marshall v. United States, 414 U.S. 417, 422 (1974), quoting from McGinnis v. Royster, 410 U.S. 263, 270 (1973), and Baxstrom v. Herold, 383 U.S. 107, 111 (1966). See Vance v. Bradl......
  • Benham v. Edwards, No. 80-9052
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • May 27, 1982
    ...deemed sufficient to necessitate strict scrutiny for classifications pertaining to involuntary confinement. Marshall v. United States, 414 U.S. 417, 94 S.Ct. 700, 38 L.Ed.2d 618 (1974). Although insanity acquittees may be somewhat isolated from the political process, they would appear to be......
  • Keker v. Procunier, Civ. No. S-74-348.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • August 8, 1975
    ...and regulatory classifications vary in accordance with the interests affected. Marshall v. Parker, 470 F.2d 34 (9th Cir. 1972), affirmed 414 U.S. 417, 94 S.Ct. 700, 38 398 F. Supp. 762 L.Ed.2d 618 (1974). In the typical case, courts test challenged statutes and regulations by the traditiona......
  • Hallinan v. Scarantino, NO. 5:20-HC-2088-FL
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Eastern District of North Carolina
    • June 11, 2020
    ...broad.’ ") (quoting Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11, 38, 25 S.Ct. 358, 49 L.Ed. 643 (1905) and Marshall v. United States, 414 U.S. 417, 427, 94 S.Ct. 700, 38 L.Ed.2d 618 (1974) ). In light of the countervailing public interest concerns set forth above and considering the scope of rel......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • List of Cases Referenced
    • United States
    • Political Research Quarterly Nbr. 28-1, March 1975
    • March 1, 1975
    ...(1974)Lubin v. Panish, 415 U.S. 709 (1974)Mahan v. Howell, 410 U.S. 315 (1973)Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643 (1961) Marshall v. United States, 414 U.S. 417 (1974)Memorial Hospital v. Maricopa County, 414 U.S. 250 (1973)Miami Herald v. Tornillo, 94 S.Ct. 2831 (1974)Michigan v. Tucker, 94 S.Ct. 2......

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