United States v. Reynolds

710 F.3d 498 (3rd Cir. 2013)


D was convicted of sexually assaulting a seven-year-old girl in Missouri. D had to register as a sex offender, which he did for the next six years. Congress passed SORNA in 2006, which required individuals convicted of sex offenses after its enactment to comply with certain registration requirements. By the promulgation of an administrative rule, the Attorney General made SORNA's registration requirements retroactive to those convicted of sex offenses before its enactment. On September 16, 2007, D moved to Washington, Pennsylvania. He failed to update his place of residence and employment information in Missouri and to register as a sex offender in Pennsylvania. D was arrested for violating parole. He was subsequently indicted for violating SORNA's registration requirements because of his failure to register between September 16, 2007, and October 16, 2007. D pleaded guilty, reserving his right to appeal. He was sentenced to eighteen months of imprisonment to be followed by three years of supervised release. D moved to dismiss the indictment, arguing that SORNA violated the nondelegation doctrine, the Commerce Clause, the Ex Post Facto Clause, the Tenth Amendment, and his Fifth Amendment substantive and procedural due process rights. D also claimed that his indictment should be dismissed because it was based on an administrative rule promulgated by the Attorney General that did not comply with the requirements of the APA. These were rejected and D entered into a plea agreement that specifically reserved his right to appeal those issues argued in his motion to dismiss the indictment. On appeal, the court held that the Commerce Clause, Ex Post Facto, and Fifth Amendment arguments lacked merit, and D lacked standing to assert his APA, nondelegation, and Tenth Amendment arguments. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that D did have standing. Originally the appeals court held that D's obligation to register under SORNA was derived from the Act itself and not from the administrative rule promulgated by the Attorney General. The court held that D could not challenge the legality of the administrative rule because the statute, not the rule, was the basis of his conviction. The Supreme Court held that the registration requirement did not automatically apply retroactively to sex offenders who committed their offense before SORNA was enacted. Under § 16913, 'the Act's registration requirements do not apply to pre-Act offenders until the Attorney General specifies that they do apply.' The case was sent back to the Appeals Court.