Thursday, April 19, 2007

What is "Violent Felony" getting 15 yr mandotory minimum sentence?

Here's Doc Berman (again--he's the GREATEST!): (the dissents are always the most interesting and informative--so much for "consensus" -- the five-to-four splits are always the most controversial too)

Though the rest legal world will sure obsess endlessly about the 5-4 Supreme Court ruling today upholding a federal ban on partial birth abortions, I plan to obsess (endlessly?) about the 5-4 Supreme Court ruling today upholding an application of a criminal history sentencing enhancement in James. Here is the basic early report from SCOTUSblog on James:

In another 5-4 decision, the Court ruled that an individual convicted of attempted burglary under state law has committed a "violent felony" for purposes of a mandatory 15-year sentence under federal law dealing with armed criminals. The ruling came in James v. U.S. (05-9264). Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., wrote for the majority. The voted produced an unusual array: with Alito in the majority were Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., and Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Kennedy and David H. Souter.

Based on the unusual vote line-up and the outcome, I suspect James will provide many tea leaves about future Sixth Amendment cases. I will, of course, post and comment on the opinion once it is available.

UPDATE: The James opinion can now be accessed here. It runs 44 pages total (including the syllabus). Here is the dissenting line-up: "SCALIA, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which STEVENS and GINSBURG, JJ., joined. THOMAS, J., filed a dissenting opinion." Why can't my printer go faster!!

Other Stuff of Interest: (from How Appealing and Howard Bashman--again--he's the goto news guy on the blawgershpere!)

"Microsoft Settles Iowa Lawsuit": The Associated Press provides a report that begins, "Microsoft Corp. agreed Wednesday to pay Iowans up to $180 million to settle a class-action lawsuit that claimed the company had a monopoly that cost the state's citizens millions of dollars extra for software products."


Access online the transcript of today's U.S. Supreme Court oral argument in Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Assn. v. Brentwood Academy, No. 06-427: The transcript can be accessed here. In coverage of the oral argument, The Associated Press reports that "Court Considers Football Recruiting Case."


Access online today's (now yesterday's) U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the partial-birth abortion ban cases: You can access the decision at this link. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy delivered the opinion of the Court, in which the Chief Justice and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel A. Alito, Jr. joined. Justice Thomas also filed a concurring opinion in which Justice Scalia joined. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote a dissenting opinion, in which Justices John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, and Stephen G. Breyer joined.

Although the cases were argued separately (access the oral argument transcripts here and here), the Court disposed of the cases by means of a single opinion.

In his concurrence, Justice Thomas states: "I write separately to reiterate my view that the Court's abortion jurisprudence, including Casey and Roe v. Wade, 410 U. S. 113 (1973), has no basis in the Constitution." It is worth noting that the Court's two newest Justices -- the Chief Justice and Justice Alito -- did not join in Justice Thomas's concurring opinion.

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