Tuesday, July 2, 2019

SCOTUS Decision Might Lead To Release Of Thousands Of Violent Felons

Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Justice Neil Gorsuch seems really determined to give violent gun felons a degree of due process our founders never envisioned. In yet another opinion, expanding upon previous decisions declaring the “crime of violence” statute unconstitutional, Gorsuch joined with the four liberal justices to vacate the criminal conviction of two violent robbers while declaring the statute upon which the conviction rested as unconstitutional. Meanwhile, there is no urgency from Congress to promote “criminal justice reform” that would actually stem the tide of judicially-mandated jailbreak of violent criminals.
One of the centerpieces of the Reagan-era tough-on-crime regime was the federal Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA). ACCA established mandatory minimum sentencing for those who used firearms while committing crimes and enhanced penalties for repeat offender. The bill helped spawn the most precipitous drop in crime in our nation’s history by taking the most violent criminals (not just “nonviolent” drug offenders) off the streets. Numerous statutory clauses reference a “violent felony” as eligible for these penalties. Violent felony is described as including crimes such as assault, burglary, arson or a crime that “otherwise involves conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another.”
Thousands of these cases were tried in the courts for three decades without any problems until in 2015, the Supreme Court in Johnson v. U.S. “struck down” that final clause of the statute, known as the residual clause, as unconstitutionally ambiguous. A year later, in another creeping pattern of applying their breaches in the Constitution retroactively, the Court in Welch v. United States applied this ruling retroactively to the thousands of people who were sentenced under this law since 1984. Justice Clarence Thomas vigorously dissented.
Thus, the worst of the worst within the prison system are now eligible to reopen their cases in front of numerous liberal district judges, even if they committed violent offenses, as long as they weren’t the handful of crimes enumerated explicitly in the statute.
Last April, Justice Gorsuch joined with the four liberals expanding Johnson to the context of immigration cases in Sessions v. Dimaya. In that case, Gorsuch said that a criminal legal immigrant cannot be deported under crime of violence laws. As we noted at the time, this was a massive expansion of his own doctrine of constitutional vagueness because even if crime of violence language is too vague for a criminal convictions, the courts have long said that deportations are not criminal punishments but the extension and consequence of sovereignty. As Thomas noted at the time, it was the first time the court held a criminal alien statute unconstitutional.
Read the rest from Daniel Horowitz HERE.

If you like what you see, please "Like" us on Facebook either here or here. Please follow us on Twitter here.

No comments: