On November 12, 2013, the Supreme Court heard oral argument for several cases, including Burrage v. United States and Rosemond v. United States. The question in Burrage v. United States is twofold. First, the case considers whether the federal crime of distribution of illegal drugs causing death is a strict liability crime, without any requirement that the death be foreseeable or that the drugs be its “proximate” cause. The second question is whether a person can be convicted of this crime under jury instructions that direct conviction when the illegal drug “contributed to” death by “mixed drug intoxication” but was not the sole cause of death.

The question in Rosemond v. United States is whether the federal offense of aiding and abetting the use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence or drug trafficking crime requires proof of intentional facilitation or encouragement of the use of the firearm, or merely proof of simple knowledge that the principal used a firearm during a crime of violence or drug trafficking crime in which the defendant also participated.

To discuss these cases, we have John Malcolm, Director and Ed Gilbertson and Sherry Lindberg Gilbertson Senior Legal Fellow at the Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies.

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