I don’t recall Gamble v. United States being discussed at Ordinary Times yet. But it touches on something about which I have long been curious and yet am not sure where I stand. Here’s Ken White’s summary of the case, from a post that actually is about something slightly different:
The issue at hand is the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment, which says the government can’t “for the same offence . . . .be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.” Most commonly double jeopardy means that the government can’t charge you again with the same thing after they lose at trial. There’s a notorious exception to it called the “Separate Sovereigns” or “Dual Sovereignty” Doctrine. Under this doctrine, different “sovereigns” can try you for the same crime because they have separate interests in punishing the crime. This most commonly allows the federal government and a state to prosecute you for the same crime, on the theory that they have distinct interests and reasons to do so. This famously happened when the federal government prosecuted the police officers who beat Rodney King even after they were acquitted in state court.
The Dual Sovereignty Doctrine has always been controversial and somewhat unpopular. This term, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case in which it could overturn the Dual Sovereignty Doctrine. That case is Gamble v. United States — you can read all about it here, on the indispensable SCOTUSblog.
White’s explanation, further on, cites an amicus brief that claims dual prosecutions could still be done. One takeaway is that we could still prosecute state-level actors for civil rights violations. But I don’t understand all the legalities. I’ve read a couple of briefs already, and I plan on reading more as this case makes its way to being heard.