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United States v. Salerno

Supreme Court of the United States

January 21, 1987, Argued ; May 26, 1987, Decided

No. 86-87


 [*741]  [***705]  [**2098]    CHIEF JUSTICE REHNQUIST delivered the opinion of the Court.

  [****6]   The Bail Reform Act of 1984 (Act) allows a federal court to detain an arrestee pending trial if the Government demonstrates by clear and convincing evidence after an adversary hearing that no release conditions "will reasonably assure . . . the safety of any other person and the community." The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit struck down this provision of the Act as facially unconstitutional, because, in that court's words, this type of pretrial detention violates "substantive due process." We granted certiorari because of a conflict among the Courts of Appeals regarding the validity of the Act. 2 479 U.S. 929 (1986). We hold that, as against the facial attack mounted by these respondents, the Act fully comports with constitutional requirements. We therefore reverse.

 [****7]  [*742]   I

Responding to "the alarming problem of crimes committed by persons on release," S. Rep. No. 98-225, p. 3 (1983), Congress formulated the Bail Reform Act of 1984, 18 U. S. C. § 3141 et seq. (1982 ed., Supp. III), as the solution to a bail crisis in the federal courts. The Act represents the National Legislature's considered response to numerous perceived deficiencies in the  [**2099]  federal bail process. By providing for sweeping changes in both the way federal courts consider bail applications and the circumstances under which bail is granted, Congress hoped to "give the courts adequate authority to make release decisions that give appropriate recognition to the danger a person may pose to others if released." S. Rep. No. 98-225, at 3.

To this end, § 3141(a) of the Act requires a judicial officer to determine whether an arrestee shall be detained. Section 3142(e) provides that "if, after a hearing pursuant to the provisions of subsection (f), the judicial officer finds that no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure the appearance of the person as required and the safety of any other person and the community, he shall order the detention [****8]  of the person prior to trial." Section 3142(f) provides the arrestee with a number of procedural safeguards. He may request the presence of counsel at the detention hearing, he may testify and present witnesses in his behalf, as well as proffer evidence, and he may  [***706]  cross-examine other witnesses appearing at the hearing. If the judicial officer finds that no conditions of pretrial release can reasonably assure the safety of other persons and the community, he must state his findings of fact in writing, § 3142(i), and support his conclusion with "clear and convincing evidence," § 3142(f).

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481 U.S. 739 *; 107 S. Ct. 2095 **; 95 L. Ed. 2d 697 ***; 1987 U.S. LEXIS 2259 ****; 55 U.S.L.W. 4663



Disposition:  794 F.2d 64, reversed.


bail, detention, pretrial detention, arrestee, detain, the Act, excessive bail, indictment, the Eighth Amendment, circumstances, cases, danger to the community, sentenced, witnesses, arrest, the Bail Reform Act, flight, clear and convincing evidence, presumption of innocence, judicial officer, probable cause, Rights, facial, imprisonment, respondents', provisions, innocent, violates, charges, substantive due process

Criminal Law & Procedure, Preliminary Proceedings, Bail, Conditions of Release, Racketeering, Racketeer Influenced & Corrupt Organizations Act, Elements, Hearings, Constitutional Law, Case or Controversy, Constitutionality of Legislation, General Overview, Governments, Legislation, Overbreadth, Fundamental Freedoms, Judicial & Legislative Restraints, Overbreadth & Vagueness of Legislation, Fundamental Rights, Procedural Due Process, Scope of Protection, Substantive Due Process, Scope, Dangerousness, Release Pending Appeal & Sentencing, Speedy Trial, Statutory Right, Evidence, Burdens of Proof, Clear & Convincing Proof, Counsel, Right to Counsel