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pontificia universidad católica de puerto rico

does not have, just in the nature of things: It has no

capacity, no magic wand or airbrush, to erase or otherwise

rewrite its own foundational role in conferring political

authority. Or otherwise said, the delegator cannot make

itself any less so– no matter how much authority it opts

to hand over. And our dual-sovereignty test makes this

historical fact dispositive: If an entity’s authority to enact

and enforce criminal law ultimately comes from Congress,

then it cannot follow a federal prosecution with its own.

That is true of Puerto Rico, because Congress authorized

and approved its Constitution, from which prosecutorial

power now flows. So the Double Jeopardy Clause bars

both Puerto Rico and the United States from prosecuting

a single person for the same conduct under equivalent

criminal laws.”


A fin de que el lector pueda llegar a sus propias

conclusiones reproducimos en las notas al pie de la página

partes significativas del texto de la opinión. En la primera

parte, el Tribunal explica la diferencia entre el término

soberanía y el concepto fuente original. En el federalismo

americano los estados y el gobierno federal ambos tienen

soberanía en las áreas de jurisdicción reservadas para cada uno

de sus gobiernos.



Commonwealth of Puerto Rico v. Sánchez Valle Et al

. 579 U.S. ___ (2016) (“Slip opinión” de 9 de

junio de 2016) pp. 14-15.

9 “Truthbetold,however, ‘sovereignty’ inthiscontextdoesnotbear itsordinarymeaning. For

whatever reason, the test we have devised to decide whether two governments are distinct

for double jeopardy purposes overtly disregards common indicia of sovereignty. Under

that standard, we do not examine the ‘extent of control’ that ‘one prosecuting authority

[wields] over the other.’


, 435 U. S., at 320. The degree to which an entity exercises

self-governance –whether autonomously managing its own affairs or continually submitting

to outside direction– plays no role in the analysis. Nor do we care about a government’s more

particular ability to enact and enforce its own criminal laws…. In short, the inquiry (despite

its label) does not probe whether a government possesses the usual attributes, or acts in the

common manner, of a sovereign entity.

“Rather, as Puerto Rico itself acknowledges, our test hinges on a single criterion: the

‘ultimate source’ of the power undergirding the respective prosecutions... Whether two

prosecuting entities are dual sovereigns in the double jeopardy context, we have stated,

depends on ‘whether [they] draw their authority to punish the offender from distinct

sources of power.’ The inquiry is thus historical, not functional—looking at the deepest

wellsprings, not the current exercise, of prosecutorial authority. If two entities derive their

power to punish from wholly independent sources (imagine here a pair of parallel lines),

then they may bring successive prosecutions. Conversely, if those entities draw their power

from the same ultimate source (imagine now two lines emerging from a common point, even

if later diverging), then they may not.” Id, pp. 6-7.