KANSAS v. HENDRICKS

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
95-1649
Petitioner 
Kansas
Respondent 
Hendricks
Consolidation 
No. 95-9075
Advocates
(Argued the cause for Kansas)
(Argued the cause for Hendricks)
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Facts of the Case 

As the time neared for Leroy Hendricks' release from prison, having served for his long history of child sexual molestation, the State of Kansas sought his commitment under its Sexually Violent Predator Act (Act). After testifying that he agreed with the diagnosis that he still suffered from pedophilia and is likely to molest children again, Hendricks became a candidate for civil commitment under the Act which provided for the institutionalization of persons likely to engage in "predatory acts of sexual violence" brought on by "mental abnormality" or "personality disorder[s]." On appeal from a court ordered commitment, the Kansas Supreme Court invalidated the Act as unconstitutional. The Supreme Court granted Kansas certiorari.

Question 

Did the Act's civil commitment provisions, based on its definition of what constitutes a "mental abnormality," violate substantive due process and double jeopardy requirements?

Conclusion 
Decision: 5 votes for Kansas, 4 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Due Process

No. Despite Hendricks' claim that a certification of "mental illness" alone was too arbitrary to sustain a civil commitment order, the Court held that the Act met substantive due process standards by requiring considerable evidence of past violent sexual behavior and a present mental inclination to repeat such offenses. Furthermore, the Court held that since it required the release of confined persons who became mentally stable and no longer dangerous, did not speak of scienter, and lacked other procedural safeguards characteristic of criminal trials, the Act did not violate double jeopardy guarantees since it merely authorized "civil" rather than "criminal" commitments

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KANSAS v. HENDRICKS. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 09 July 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1996/1996_95_1649/>.
KANSAS v. HENDRICKS, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1996/1996_95_1649/ (last visited July 9, 2014).
"KANSAS v. HENDRICKS," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed July 9, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1996/1996_95_1649/.