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November 16, 2005

A new argument for considering family circumstances at sentencing?

Thanks to this post at How Appealing, I see this news that the House of Representatives found time to  pass this resolution expressing disagreement with a recent Ninth Circuit decision about parental rights.  Catching my eye in the resolution was the bold statement that "the rights of parents ought to be strengthened whenever possible as they are the cornerstone of American society." 

Given the overwhelming approval of this resolution by the House of Representatives, should federal district courts apply their new Booker discretion to give greater weight to defendants' claims for a departure or variance on the basis of parenting responsibilities?  As noted in this post, the Eighth Circuit earlier today in Tobacco rejected a parental responsibilities claim.  In that case, the defendant stressed that he was raising three children, that he stayed at home with his children, and that one child "has asthma; another has a blood disease requiring yearly hospitalization and making him sick when exposed to the cold."

Arguably, the House's declaration that "the rights of parents ought to be strengthened whenever possible as they are the cornerstone of American society," suggests that claims like the one made in Tobacco merit much greater consideration.  At the very least, the resolution suggests that most members of the House should be pleased to hear about departures or variances that district judges grant because of parental concerns.

November 16, 2005 at 06:19 PM | Permalink

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