Reynolds v. United States, No. 10–6549.

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtJustice BREYER delivered the opinion of the Court.
Citation565 U.S. 432,132 S.Ct. 975,181 L.Ed.2d 935
Docket NumberNo. 10–6549.
Decision Date23 January 2012
Parties Billy Joe REYNOLDS, Petitioner v. UNITED STATES.

565 U.S. 432
132 S.Ct.
975
181 L.Ed.2d 935

Billy Joe REYNOLDS, Petitioner
v.
UNITED STATES.

No. 10–6549.

Supreme Court of the United States

Argued Oct. 3, 2011.
Decided Jan. 23, 2012.


Candace Cain, Pittsburgh, PA, for Petitioner.

Melissa Arbus Sherry, for Respondent.

Lisa B. Freeland, Federal Public Defender, Candace Cain, Renee D. Pietropaolo, Tara I. Allen, Assistant Federal Public Defenders, Kimberly R. Brunson, Peter R. Moyers, Staff Attorneys, Pittsburgh, PA, for Petitioner.

Donald B. Verrilli, Jr., Solicitor General, Counsel of Record, Lanny A. Breuer, Assistant Attorney General, Michael R. Dreeben, Deputy Solicitor General, Melissa Arbus Sherry, Assistant to the Solicitor General, J. Campbell Barker, Attorney,

132 S.Ct. 978

Department of Justice, Washington, DC., for United States.

Justice BREYER delivered the opinion of the Court.

565 U.S. 434

The federal Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (Act), 120 Stat. 590, 42 U.S.C. § 16901 et seq. (2006 ed. and Supp. III), requires those convicted of certain sex crimes to provide state governments with (and to update) information, such as names and current addresses, for inclusion on state and federal sex offender registries. §§ 16912(a), 16913 – 16914, 16919(a) (2006 ed.). The Act makes it a crime for a person who is "required to register" under the Act and who "travels in interstate or foreign commerce" knowingly to "fai[l] to register or update a registration...." 18 U.S.C. § 2250(a). The question before us concerns the date on which this federal registration requirement took effect with respect to sex offenders convicted before the Act became law.

The Act defines the term "sex offender" as including these pre-Act offenders. 42 U.S.C. § 16911(1) ; see Carr v. United States, 560 U.S. ––––, ––––, 130 S.Ct. 2229, 2235–2236, 176 L.Ed.2d 1152 (2010). It says that "[a] sex offender

565 U.S. 435

shall register." § 16913(a). And it further says that "[t]he Attorney General shall have the authority to specify the applicability of the [registration] requirements ... to sex offenders convicted before the enactment of this chapter...." § 16913(d) (emphasis added). In our view, these provisions, read together, mean that the Act's registration requirements do not apply to pre-Act offenders until the Attorney General specifies that they do apply. We reverse a Court of Appeals determination that, in effect, holds the contrary.

I

A

The new federal Act reflects Congress' awareness that pre-Act registration law consisted of a patchwork of federal and 50 individual state registration systems. See 73 Fed.Reg. 38045 (2008). The Act seeks to make those systems more uniform and effective. It does so by repealing several earlier federal laws that also (but less effectively) sought uniformity; by setting forth comprehensive registration-system standards; by making federal funding contingent on States' bringing their systems into compliance with those standards; by requiring both state and federal sex offenders to register with relevant jurisdictions (and to keep registration information current); and by creating federal criminal sanctions applicable to those who violate the Act's registration requirements. 18 U.S.C. § 2250(a) (criminal provision); 42 U.S.C. §§ 16911(10), 16913 – 16916 (2006 ed. and Supp. III) (registration requirements); § 16925 (federal funding); § 129, 120 Stat. 600 (repeal of earlier laws).

The Act's criminal penalty applies to "[w]ho[m]ever ... is required to register under [the Act]." 18 U.S.C. § 2250(a). It says that such a person (a federal sex offender or a nonfederal sex offender who travels in interstate commerce) must not knowingly fail "to register or update a registration as required by [the Act] ." Ibid. (emphasis added); see Appendix, infra, at 984.

565 U.S. 436

The relevant registration requirements are set forth in an Act provision that states:

132 S.Ct. 979
"R egistry requirements for sex offenders

"(a) I n general

"A sex offender [defined to include any offender who was convicted of a sex offense] shall register, and keep the registration current, in each jurisdiction where the offender resides, where the offender is an employee, and where the offender is a student....

"(b) I nitial registration

"The sex offender shall initially register [either] before completing a sentence of imprisonment with respect to the offense giving rise to the registration requirement; or [for those not sentenced to prison] not later than 3 business days after being sentenced....

"(c) Keeping the registration current

"A sex offender shall [update his registration within] 3 business days after each change of name, residence, employment, or student status [by] appear[ing] in person in at least 1 jurisdiction involved ... and inform[ing] that jurisdiction of all [relevant] changes....

"(d) I nitial registration of sex offenders unable to comply with subsection (b)

"The Attorney General shall have the authority to specify the applicability of the [registration] requirements ... to sex offenders convicted before the enactment of this chapter or its implementation in a particular jurisdiction, and to prescribe rules for the registration of any such sex offenders and for other categories of sex offenders who are unable to comply with subsection (b)." 42 U.S.C. § 16913 (emphasis added).

The new Act became law on July 27, 2006.

On February 28, 2007, the Attorney General promulgated an Interim Rule specifying that "[t]he requirements of [the Act] apply to all sex offenders, including sex offenders convicted

565 U.S. 437

of the offense for which registration is required prior to the enactment of that Act." 72 Fed.Reg. 8897 (codified at 28 CFR § 72.3 ). Subsequently, the Attorney General promulgated further rules, regulations, and specifications. See 73 Fed.Reg. 38030 (2008) ; 75 Fed.Reg. 81849 (2010) ; 76 Fed.Reg. 1630 (2011). The present case focuses upon the applicability of the Act's registration requirements to pre-Act offenders during the period between (1) July 27, 2006 (when the Act took effect) and (2) the moment when the Attorney General promulgated a valid rule specifying the registration requirements' applicability, namely, February 28, 2007 (or a later date if the February 28 specification was invalid).

B

Billy Joe Reynolds, the petitioner, is a pre-Act offender. He was convicted of a Missouri sex offense in October 2001; he served four years in prison; he was released in July 2005; he then registered as a Missouri sex offender; but he moved to Pennsylvania in September 2007 without updating his Missouri registration information (as Missouri law required) and without registering in Pennsylvania. A federal grand jury indicted him, charging him with, between September 16 and October 16, 2007, having "knowingly failed to register and update a registration as required by [the Act]." App. 13; see 18 U.S.C. § 2250(a). In the Government's view, Reynolds' failure to update his address information when he moved to Pennsylvania violated the requirement that a "sex offender" update registration information within "3 business days after each change of ... residence." 42 U.S.C. § 16913(c).

Reynolds moved to dismiss the indictment on the ground that in September and October 2007 the Act's registration requirements had not yet become applicable

132 S.Ct. 980

to pre-Act offenders. He conceded that the Act had become law earlier (namely, in July 2006), and he conceded that the Attorney General had already (in February 2007) promulgated an

565 U.S. 438

Interim Rule specifying that the Act's registration requirements were applicable to pre-Act offenders. But he claimed that the Interim Rule was invalid because it violated both the Constitution's "nondelegation" doctrine and the Administrative Procedure Act's (APA) requirement for "good cause" to promulgate a rule without "notice and comment" (as the Attorney General had done). See A.L.A. Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States, 295 U.S. 495, 529, 55 S.Ct. 837, 79 L.Ed. 1570 (1935) (nondelegation doctrine); 5 U.S.C. §§ 553(b)(3)(B), (d)(3) (APA). Because the Interim Rule is invalid, he added, the law must treat him like a pre-Act offender who traveled interstate and violated the Act's registration requirements before the Attorney General specified their applicability.

The District Court rejected on the merits Reynolds' legal attack on the Interim Rule. But the Court of Appeals rejected Reynolds' argument without reaching those merits. 380 Fed.Appx. 125 (2010). That court thought that the Act's registration requirements apply to pre-Act offenders such as Reynolds (who was subject to a pre-existing state-law registration requirement) from the date of the new law's enactment—even in the absence of any rule or regulation by the Attorney General specifying that the new registration requirements apply. That being so, the validity of the Interim Rule could make no legal difference, for the...

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44 practice notes
  • Commonwealth v. Muniz, No. 47 MAP 2016
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • July 19, 2017
    ..., May v. United States , 556 U.S. 1258, 129 S.Ct. 2431, 174 L.Ed.2d 229 (2009), abrogated on other grounds by Reynolds v. United States , 565 U.S. 432, 132 S.Ct. 975, 181 L.Ed.2d 935 (2012). Under the circumstances, we consider it salutary to decide appellant's state constitutional challeng......
  • Pavulak v. United States, Crim. No. 09-43SLR. Civ. No. 14-290-SLR.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Delaware)
    • March 31, 2017
    ...Act ("SORNA") does not retroactively apply to his 1998 and 2005 sex offense convictions. Citing Reynolds v. United States , 565 U.S. 432, 132 S.Ct. 975, 181 L.Ed.2d 935 (2012), movant argues that SORNA was not made retroactively "effective" to offenders with pre-July 200......
  • Int'l Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump, No. 17-1351
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Fourth Circuit
    • May 25, 2017
    ...secretary and other White House Official's statements can represent official government position. See, e.g., Reynolds v. United States, 565 U.S. 432, 132 S.Ct. 975, 984, 181 L.Ed.2d 935 (2012) (citing to the Office of the Press Secretary to show President's position on registration of sex o......
  • United States v. Morgan, Crim. No. 16-0196 (ESH).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • June 9, 2017
    ...registration requirements do not apply to pre–Act offenders until the Attorney General so specifies." Reynolds v. United States , 565 U.S. 432, 445, 132 S.Ct. 975, 181 L.Ed.2d 935 (2012). On three different occasions, the Attorney General issued rules or guidelines stating that SORNA a......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
44 cases
  • Commonwealth v. Muniz, No. 47 MAP 2016
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • July 19, 2017
    ..., May v. United States , 556 U.S. 1258, 129 S.Ct. 2431, 174 L.Ed.2d 229 (2009), abrogated on other grounds by Reynolds v. United States , 565 U.S. 432, 132 S.Ct. 975, 181 L.Ed.2d 935 (2012). Under the circumstances, we consider it salutary to decide appellant's state constitutional challeng......
  • Pavulak v. United States, Crim. No. 09-43SLR. Civ. No. 14-290-SLR.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Delaware)
    • March 31, 2017
    ...Act ("SORNA") does not retroactively apply to his 1998 and 2005 sex offense convictions. Citing Reynolds v. United States , 565 U.S. 432, 132 S.Ct. 975, 181 L.Ed.2d 935 (2012), movant argues that SORNA was not made retroactively "effective" to offenders with pre-July 200......
  • Int'l Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump, No. 17-1351
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Fourth Circuit
    • May 25, 2017
    ...secretary and other White House Official's statements can represent official government position. See, e.g., Reynolds v. United States, 565 U.S. 432, 132 S.Ct. 975, 984, 181 L.Ed.2d 935 (2012) (citing to the Office of the Press Secretary to show President's position on registration of sex o......
  • United States v. Morgan, Crim. No. 16-0196 (ESH).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • June 9, 2017
    ...registration requirements do not apply to pre–Act offenders until the Attorney General so specifies." Reynolds v. United States , 565 U.S. 432, 445, 132 S.Ct. 975, 181 L.Ed.2d 935 (2012). On three different occasions, the Attorney General issued rules or guidelines stating that SORNA a......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
2 books & journal articles
  • HEALTH CARE FRAUD
    • United States
    • American Criminal Law Review Nbr. 58-3, July 2021
    • July 1, 2021
    ...defendant’s conviction under § 1001 for failing to register as a sex offender), abrogated on other grounds by Reynolds v. United States, 565 U.S. 432 (2012); United States v. Mattox, 689 F.2d 531, 532 (5th Cir. 1982) (f‌inding that f‌illing in “N/A” in a government form when defendant in fa......
  • DELEGATION, ADMINISTRATION, AND IMPROVISATION.
    • United States
    • Notre Dame Law Review Vol. 97 Nbr. 1, November 2021
    • November 1, 2021
    ...(262) Act of May 26, 1790, ch. 12, [section]1, 1 Stat. 122, 123. (263) Lawson, supra note 14, at 401; see also Reynolds v. United States, 565 U.S. 432, 450 (2012) (Scalia, J., dissenting) ("giv[ing] the Attorney General the power to reduce congressionally imposed requirements" would not pos......

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