In 1986, Congress adopted a 100:1 ratio for prosecuting crack cocaine and powder cocaine offenses. If I was caught dealing 10 grams crack to James, I would receive the same penalty that I would if I was caught dealing him a kilo of powder cocaine. The US Sentencing Committee has long tried to persuade Congress to change this policy but Congress has always rejected the idea. The Supreme Court has also been reluctant to rule on the issue until now.

The Supreme Court accepted review in the straightforward case Kimbrough v. US. The district judge handed down a sentence that was below the standard sentencing guidelines because he felt the guidelines were excessively long. The circuit court rejected the district judge’s ruling and remanded the case for resentencing.

This case seems like a textbook political issue. The Court is more likely to rule on the constitutionality of a judge issuing a below-guidelines sentence than the constitutionality of the crack/powder ratio. I think a lot of the reason the court took on this case has to do with the Claiborne case that they had to end prematurely. Both of the cases have similar underlying issues and this could simply be a substitute.



Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Categories

Random Posts

  • Updated Term Charts: Starting this week, I'll be posting my updated charts on SCOTUSblog. You can find the first SB version of my charts here. More spec...
  • Advocates Arguing from Private Practice (OT 2000-2011): In my last post, I provided a list of the top Supreme Court advocates of the twenty-first century who had never worked in the Office of the ...
  • An Interview with Michael Dreeben: Michael Dreeben, a Deputy Solicitor General, spent the last semester on leave to teach at Duke University Law School. During his time there,...
  • A Deeper Look at Reversal Rates: An article in today's Cincinati Enquirer highlights the Sixth Circuit's current 15-case losing streak in the Supreme Court. Circuits regular...
  • Predicting the April Sitting: I run into the exact same debate every year around mid-January: which cases will be heard during the current term and which will be pushed o...