Russell Hebets June 4, 2014

Carol Anne Bond was living the American dream in Pennsylvania. She had a good job as a micro-biologist. She had a loving husband. She often saw her best friend, Myrlinda Haynes. Her husband often saw her best friend Myrlinda Haynes. Her husband possibly saw her best friend Myrlinda Haynes a little too often. In 2006 Mrs. Bond found out her friend was pregnant. With her husband’s child. At this point she did what any blue-blooded microbiologist in her situation would do. She obtained various chemical compounds, coated Myrlinda’s doorknob and mailbox with them, and waited for a nasty rash to develop.

We can only imagine Mrs. Bond’s evil-genius laugh as Ms. Haynes touched the chemicals, causing a burn on Myrlinda’s thumb which required the intense treatment of running it under water. Unfortunately for Mrs. Bond, the consequences for her were somewhat more severe. The federal government charged her with a violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Act of 1998. In short, they accused her of chemical warfare.

Fast forward eight years and several appeals later. Justice Roberts, joined by 6 justices of the U.S. Supreme Court issued ruling in the case. They ruled that the Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Act in fact does not apply to local crimes but was instead intended to combat actual chemical warfare. In the opinion they explain the reason for their ruling: “Any parent would be guilty of a serious federal offense—possession of a chemical weapon—when, exasperated by the children’s repeated failure to clean the goldfish tank, he considers poisoning the fish with a few drops of vinegar. We are reluctant to… transform a statute passed to implement the international Convention on Chemical Weapons into one that also makes it a federal offense to poison goldfish.” Today Mrs. Bond is breathing a big sigh of relief. The same cannot be said for goldfish everywhere.