Late Friday, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. issued an order that prevents the release of some sex offenders who have completed their prison terms, but remain under civil confinement.
The portion of the federal law allowing such civil confinement had been invalidated by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that Congress overstepped its authority by allowing convicted sex offenders who served their terms, but were deemed dangerous by the government, to be held civilly. The law, the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, was passed by Congress and sighed into law by President George W. Bush in 2006.
Friday Solicitor General Elena Kagan asked the high court to grant an immediate interim stay of the federal appellate court ruling while considering a permanent stay request. Roberts, in turn, granted the permanent stay pending consideration of certiorari in the case.
Roberts’ ruling will keep about 77 convicted offenders to remain in custody in North Carolina. Without the stay, the inmates could have been released as early as next week.