Justices rule against Puerto Rico in fight over criminal law

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court says Puerto Rico remains a U.S. territory without the independent powers of a sovereign state when it comes to enforcement of criminal law.

The justices’ 6-2 ruling says Congress is the ultimate source of the island’s legal power even though Puerto Rico has its own constitution.

The ruling helps clarify the island’s legal status at a time when the issue has caused deep divisions between the U.S. government and the island.

The court sided with two men who said the principle of double jeopardy prevented Puerto Rico officials from prosecuting them on weapons charges after they had already pleaded guilty to similar charges in federal court.

Puerto Rico officials argued the island could still bring similar charges under its own laws like a sovereign state.