US v. Matthews, Nos. 05-1655, 05-1925 (8/7/07) says that there is no due process or federalism problem in doing so. But, this argument was not properly raised below. The First doesn’t take his argument too seriously, because it uses the particularly silly phrase sentence, “he cites no cases holding that Congress oversteps constitutional bounds by ignoring state law classifications and treating particular juvenile acts as criminal in nature.” Dude! Just because there isn’t caselaw doesn’t mean that it is constitutional, and this seems to be a wholesale evisceration of a state’s interests trying to rehabilitate the kind of kids that get into trouble. Moreover, “Instead, it narrowly extends the statute's reach to specific juvenile conduct. We see no basis for denying Congress that prerogative.” That still doesn’t resolve the due process issue. Read on.
Instead, later mentions Apprendi's prior conviction exception. The First analyzes a circuit split (noting that the 9th was split) and concludes that the kind of kinds that get into trouble as kids have no right to a jury trial, so when they become adults they branded as juvenile offenders (even though the records might be technically “sealed” or some other term that doesn’t mean much).
But, the First does redeem itself a bit because it notes
On plain error review, the court turns back a challenge that it was error to not explain to the jury what “specific intent” means because, the First seems to say that somehow the government actually had a higher burden.
The defendants sufficiency challenges are rejected. Apparently he made the argument that the case was “entirely circumstantial.” But, I bet that was taken out of context, because I think we all know that is fine to take away someone’s life or freedom with circumstantial evidence. So, someone gets to spend a lot of time in jail at the taxpayers expense.