There are many different angles from which someone could attack the majority opinion issued today in United States v. Comstock. I am on record previously and continue to believe that Section 4248 is an unconstitutional exercise of federal power. In this case, though, I want to focus on the factual claim by the majority and the concurring opinions that 4248 was necessary and proper to execute an enumerated power. From the majority:
Taken together, these considerations lead us to conclude that the statute is a “necessary and proper” means of exercising the federal authority that permits Congress to create federal criminal laws, to punish their violation, to imprison violators, to provide appropriately for those imprisoned, and to maintain the security of those who are not imprisoned but who may be affected by the federal imprisonment of others. The Constitution consequently authorizes Congress to enact the statute.
While Justice Alito's concurrence believes that the majority holding might be too broad, it affords little retreat on the issue of whether 4248 was necessary and proper:
The Necessary and Proper Clause provides the constitutional authority for most federal criminal statutes. In other words, most federal criminal statutes rest upon a congressional judgment that, in order to execute one or more of the powers conferred on Congress, it is necessary and proper to criminalize certain conduct, and in order to do that it is obviously necessary and proper to provide for the operation of a federal criminal justice system and a federal prison system.
What seems clear from the above quotes is the Court was persuaded that 4248 was necessary (but not absolutely necessary) and proper for effectuation of an enumerated power (the Commerce Clause) because it was intertwined with the administration of a federal prison system. That's nonsense. It seems like the Court was unwilling to acknowledge what everyone who supported this statute knows - 4248 was a means to incarcerate sex offenders after their release. Thus the period of jurisdictional control of the offender would be indefinitely extended. And while the test case was for a prisoner being released, there will surely be persons who have merely been arrested or detained for immigration purposes soon diverted to civil commitment facilities. The Court ultimately relies on analogies to past cases, but I just can't wrap my head around the idea that, even under an expansive view of the Necessary and Proper Clause, there is reason for 4248 in regards to the administration of the federal criminal justice system. This was a clear extension of federal power that was neither necessary nor proper as the federal prison system was wholly unaffected by the lack of 4248 before it was passed. While the outcome was expected, it is still disappointing to see in writing.