Here is the opinion issued by Judge Young, D. Mass., holding the federal sentencing guidelines unconstitutional. It's 177 pages long and in parts is brilliant. A lot may depend on how the Supreme Court decides the pending Blakely v. Washington case that was argued on March 23, 2004, challenging the guideline system in the state of Washington on Apprendi grounds.
Firearms Sentencing Enhancements table
2003 USSC Sentencing Guidelines Manual
June 14, 2004
Click this link for complete text
Sensenbrenner is chair of the House judiciary Committee
and he was
instrumental in the passage of the Feeney Amendment to the Protect
Act. This new proposal, like the Feeney Amendment, uses the cover of
children to increase sentences and decrease the power of judges and
Sentencing Commission. For example, it would make the sale of any quantity
of any controlled substance (including marijuana) by a person older
to a person younger than 18 subject to a 5-year minimum mandatory sentence.
The punishment for a second offense of underage marijuana distribution
be mandatory life imprisonment.
Given the number of schools, colleges, hospitals, drug treatment facilities,
and public and private daycare facilities in the average town, it is
exaggeration to say that the effect of just the foregoing provisions
to make distribution (or conspiracy or
It creates new mandatory life sentences without possibility of release for a variety of drug crimes, including virtually any federal drug conviction following two prior felony drug convictions (including prior state felonies). It directly repeals most of the few guidelines provisions that the Commission has managed to pass over the last few years ameliorating the severity of federal drug laws for first-time and low-level offenders (including, for those who follow such things, the minor role cap). It further restricts judicial sentencing discretion (see the proposed amendments to FRCrP 11) and it grants the Justice Department even more leeway to control departures from the guidelines when the Department deems it desirable to do so.
At the moment, the prospects for passage of the Sensenbrenner
session are uncertain. The end of the session is near. Nonetheless,
Sensenbrenner is the chair of
the House Judiciary Committee and controls its agenda. I am informed
the bill may at least achieve committee approval by the end of the