United States v. Salerno
Decided on May 26, 1987; 481 US 739


I. ISSUES II. CASE SUMMARY III. AMICI CURIAE IV. DECISION V. WIN OR LOSS?
I. ISSUES:

A. Issues Discussed:
Criminal Justice, 8th Amendment, 5th Amendment

B. Legal Question Presented:

Did the Bail Reform Act of 1984, which permitted the federal courts to detain an arrestee prior to trial if the government could prove that the individual was potentially dangerous to other people in the community, violate the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment, or the Excessive Bail Clause of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution?

II. CASE SUMMARY:

A. Background:

Respondents, Anthony Salerno and Vincent Cafaro, were arrested on a 29-count indictment alleging various Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) violations. At arraignment, the Government (petitioner) motioned for detention pursuant to the Bail Reform Act of 1984, Section 3142(e). The District Court granted the Government's detention motion.

Respondents appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The court concluded that the Government could not, consistent with due process, detain persons who had not been accused of any crime merely because they were thought to present a danger to the community.

The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari because of a conflict among the Courts of Appeals regarding the validity of the Act.

B. Counsel of Record:

ACLU Side
(Respondent/Appellee)

Opposing Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)

Anthony M. Cardinale argued the cause for respondents. With him on the brief was Kimberly Homan.
Solicitor General Fried argued the cause for the United States. With him on the brief were Assistant Attorney General Weld, Deputy Solicitor General Bryson, Jeffrey P. Minear, Samuel Rosenthal, and Maury S. Epner.
C. The Arguments:
ACLU Side
(Respondent/Appellee)
Opposing Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Unavailable Unavailable
III. AMICI CURIAE:
ACLU Side
(Respondent/Appellee)
Opposing Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Amici briefs urging affirmance were filed for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers by Jon May and Mark King Leban; Public Defender Service by Cheryl M. Long, James Klein, and David A. Reiser; American Bar Association by Eugene C. Thomas, Charles G. Cole, and David A. Schlueter; American Civil Liberties Union et al. by William J. Genego, Dennis E. Curtis, Mark Rosenbaum, Paul Hoffman, Richard Emery, Martin Guggenheim, Alvin Bronstein, and David Goldstein; and for Howard Perry by Allen N. Brunwasser.
No amici curiae briefs were filed on behalf of the petitioner.
IV. THE SUPREME COURT'S DECISION:

"The Act authorizes the detention prior to trial of arrestees charged with serious felonies who are found after an adversary hearing to pose a threat to the safety of individuals or to the community which no condition of release can dispel. The numerous procedural safeguards... must attend this adversary hearing... The arrestee is entitled to a prompt detention hearing... and the maximum length of pretrial detention is limited by the stringent time limitations of the Speedy Trial Act... The Government must prove its case by clear and convincing evidence... safeguards suffice to repel a facial challenge... We are unwilling to say its face violates either the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment or the Excessive Bail Clause of the Eighth Amendment.

Held: The judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed."

Justice Vote: 3 Pro vs. 6 Con

  • Rehnquist, W. Con (Wrote majority opinion)
  • Powell, L. Con (Joined majority opinion)
  • White, B. Con (Joined majority opinion)
  • O'Connor, S. Con (Joined majority opinion)
  • Blackmun, H. Con (Joined majority opinion)
  • Scalia, A. Con (Joined majority opinion)
  • Marshall, T. Pro (Wrote dissenting opinion)
  • Brennan, W. Pro (Joined Marshall's dissent)
  • Stevens, J. Pro (Wrote dissenting opinion)>/ul>
V. A WIN OR LOSS FOR THE ACLU?

The ACLU filed as amicus urging affirmance; the United States Supreme Court reversed the ruling in a 6-3 vote, giving the ACLU an apparent loss.