21 January 2009

8th Circuit Slapped Down For Defying SCOTUS

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it was permissible for trial courts to ignore crack sentencing guidelines in ordinary crack cocaine cases.

The U.S. Supreme Court then reversed and remanded for reconsideration, a case presenting the same issue from the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in a case where it had held that trial courts may not ignore crack sentencing guidelines unless extraordinary circumstances were present. The 8th Circuit, on remand, reached the same conclusion for the same reason, despite that the U.S. Supreme Court had just authoritatively overruled it on this ground. Today, in a per curium ruling, the 8th Circuit's ruling on remand was again overruled, emphatically.

The tussle mirrors similar ones with the also conservative 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in a few cases.

The inability of conservative justices on the 8th Circuit panel, and of three justices who dissented from this opinion (Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Thomas and Justice Alito dissented) to acknowledge that this issue was already decided by recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on point is really indefensible. This is the kind of childish and partisan behavior that President Obama denounced in his inaugural address.

Conservatives frequently excoriate lawyers for arguing improbable interpretations of court cases. But, lawyers only do it because sometimes it works.

No comments: