Doubling Down Is Quite a Gamble: Separate Sovereigns and Double Jeopardy

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by Ryan Adler

In what may be the more straightforward constitutional question to come before the Court in recent memory, the Justices will be wrangling with a peculiar tension between federalism and the Fifth Amendment’s bar against double jeopardy (“No person shall…be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb”).  Long story short, Terance Gamble was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm by both the State of Alabama and the federal government, resulting in two separate prison sentences for the exact same act.  Precedent as to this question stretches as far back as 1847, in the case of Fox v. State of Ohio, and was firmly affirmed in Abbate v. US in 1959.  How will SCOTUS tackle this issue nearly 60 years later?  Get your forecast in on the 2018 SCOTUS Challenge here!

Before you ask, no, Alex Trebek could not be reached for comment.

Ryan Adler is a Superforecaster and Director at Good Judgment who specializes in legal analysis for Good Judgment’s question writing team. He also administers the SCOTUS Challenge on Good Judgment Open, which invites probabilistic thinking about court decisions. Ryan can be reached at

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