Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Bush pushes Supreme Court to consider Blakely decision

No surprise here. The Bush administration is rushing their two appeals in federal drug convictions under Blakely through to the Supreme Court.

"The federal sentencing system has fallen into a state of deep uncertainty and disarray about the constitutional validity of the federal sentencing guidelines system," Acting Solicitor General Paul Clement wrote in asking the high court to move quickly.

Clement is urging the Supremes to circumvent the customary judicial route and rule on the instant case before the First Circuit has an opportunity to decide the merits of the case. With 64,000 cases hanging in the balance, it's understandable why Bush's prosecutors are in such a panic about the outcome.

Dissenting justices in the 5-4 ruling had warned that the ruling would undermine if not destroy the 17-year-old federal system, which was meant to make sentencing fairer by reducing disparities among punishments handed out by different judges.

We say good riddance to the whole misguided scheme. Mandatory sentencing guidelines did not make the system more fair, it made it mechanical and heartless. If a Justice of the Court is not allowed to make a judgment based on the circumstances of the case, then you may as well just give the job to trained monkeys. Anyone can rubberstamp a conviction.


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