The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to protect citizens from being prosecuted for the same crime by federal and state governments, a fundamental right enshrined in the Fifth Amendment’s Double Jeopardy Clause.
In a 7-2 ruling in Gamble v. United States, the Supreme Court affirmed the “separate sovereigns” rule, an exception to the Double Jeopardy doctrine that allows states and the federal government to prosecute a person successive times for the same act, even if the person is found not guilty in the first trial. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Neil Gorsuch dissented, warning that the Court’s majority had failed to recognize that the people—not the government—should be the ultimate sovereigns of power. The Rutherford Institute filed an amicus brief in Gamble, arguing that the “separate sovereigns” doctrine exception—which recognizes federal and state governments as separate sovereigns with distinct prosecutorial powers—violates the Fifth Amendment by enabling the government to abuse its power to prosecute, which is reflected the nation’s harsh and overly-punitive criminal justice system
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