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June 1, 2011

Justices Kennedy, Alito, and Sotomayor and the future of the SCOTUS docket and sentencing jurisprudence

The title of this post is an idea for an article that I have had banging around my head since this recent post about the Supreme Court's distinct sentencing docket this Term.  The idea emerges not only because my docket post has already generated some Justice-specific comments, but also because the troika of Kennedy, Alito, and Sotomayor seem right now to be the most motivated and engaged Justices on a range of sentencing issues.

I predicted (and hoped) in this 2008 article about the SCOTUS docket that Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito replacing Rehnquist and O'Connor might lead to a decline in the number of capital cases taken up by the Court.  That prediction appears to be coming to pass, at least in recent Terms, and the addition to Justices Sotomayor and Kagan in place of Souter and Stevens may be furthering this trend (though it is probably still too early to guess Justice Kagan's cert interests here based on her work to date).  But I may be data-mining a story that appeals to me based on my own parochial interests and a relatively quiet Term on most fronts this season.

I could go on and on with ruminations about my ideas tied to the title of this post, but for now I really want just to foster reader input.  Do folks share my instinct that Justices Kennedy, Alito, and Sotomayor are to be the chief forces driving the criminal justice side of the SCOTUS docket and that they possibly could reshape the direction of sentencing jurisprudence in many important ways in the Term to come?

Some recent and older posts on these general topics:

June 1, 2011 at 12:56 PM | Permalink

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Comments

"...because the troika of Kennedy, Alito, and Sotomayor seem right now to be the most motivated and engaged Justices on a range of sentencing issues."

Is that another way of saying the other six don't care about sentencing issues?

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | Jun 1, 2011 4:37:14 PM

If they and the other Justices want to do something useful, they might address the obvious and "criminal" injustice that inmates have no constitutional right to effective assistance from post-conviction counsel!

Posted by: peter | Jun 1, 2011 5:19:45 PM

I think they all care, Kent, I just think the troika care more.

Posted by: Doug B. | Jun 2, 2011 7:35:39 AM

"Is that another way of saying the other six don't care about sentencing issues?"

Not on any canon of construction I'm familiar with.

Posted by: Michael Drake | Jun 2, 2011 7:36:56 PM

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