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June 7, 2013

Senate confirms new USSC Commissioners Barkow, Breyer and Pryor

Who says Congress cannot get anything sensible done these days?  As reported in this official press release, the "United States Senate yesterday unanimously confirmed the nominations of three new members of the United States Sentencing Commission: Rachel E. Barkow of New York, Judge Charles R. Breyer of California, and Judge William H. Pryor, Jr. of Alabama."   Hooray, and here is more from the release on the newbies and the Commissioners they now join:

Barkow is the Segal Family Professor of Regulatory Law and Policy at the New York University School of Law, where she focuses her teaching and research on criminal and administrative law....  Barkow began her legal career by clerking for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia from 1997 to 1998, and before that for Judge Laurence H. Silberman ofthe United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit from 1996 to 1997.  She received her J.D. magna cum laude in 1996 from Harvard Law School and her B.A. with distinction in 1993 from Northwestern University.

Breyer has served as a United States District Judge in the Northern District of California since 1998.  Previously, he [had] brief stint as Chief Assistant District Attorney for San Francisco in 1979.  From 1973 to 1974, Breyer worked as an Assistant Special Prosecutor on the Watergate Special Prosecution Force.  He also served as an Assistant District Attorney in San Francisco from 1967 to 1973.  Breyer began his legal career as a law clerk to Judge Oliver J. Carter of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.  He received his J.D. in 1966 from the University of California at Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law and his B.A. cum laude in 1963 from Harvard College.

Pryor has served as a United States Circuit Judge for the Eleventh Circuit since 2004.  He has also taught federal jurisdiction at the University of Alabama School of Law and has served as an adjunct professor at the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University. Prior to his appointment to the bench, Pryor served as the Attorney General of the State of Alabama from 1997 to 2004 and as a Deputy Attorney General from 1995 to 1997....  From 1987 to 1988, Judge Pryor served as a law cl erk for Judge John Minor Wisdom of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.  He received his J.D. magna cum laude in 1987 from Tulane University Law School, where he served as Editor-in-Chief of the Tulane Law Review, and his B.A. magna cum laude in 1984 from Northeast Louisiana University (now University of Louisiana at Monroe).

By statute, the Commission is composed of seven voting members and two non-voting ex-officio members.  No more than four commissioners may be members of the same political party, and at least three shall be federal judges.  The Commission’s four other voting members are Judge Patti Saris of the District of Massachusetts (chair); Chief Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa of the Southern District of Texas; Dabney L. Friedrich of Maryland; and Judge Ketanji B. Jackson of the District of Columbia.

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June 7, 2013 at 11:24 AM | Permalink


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It's "at least three shall be federal judges," not "no more than three." That would be a problem, since five out of seven are now judges.

Posted by: Jay | Jun 7, 2013 1:53:53 PM

I'm sure it's been asked and considered, but is there any risk of Justice Breyer needing to recuse himself in some sentencing cases with his brother on the commission? I know he recuses himself when a case comes to the Court from his brother's courtroom, but I'm not sure what relevance his brother being on the commission may have.

Posted by: Matt | Jun 7, 2013 9:00:52 PM

This is a waking nightmare, and quite morally reprehensible. All are members of the lawyer elite, and will serve nothing but the money interest of the criminal cult enterprise.

The commission would have greater validation and moral standing had it named a convicted felon. At least, he would bring inside knowledge about crime and its control. No victims, no local neighbors, no one with something to lose from crime, only people with economic conflicts of interest, and subjects of the CCE.

This Commission should be ignored and boycotted until it remedies its sickening unfairness.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 7, 2013 10:28:52 PM

Thanks, Jay. The original USSC press release had it wrong, but they have made the fix and so have I now. As you may know, there was a period in which Congress had provided than no more than 3 judges could be on the USSC at once, but then Congress changed the language back to allow/require 3 or more judges on the USSC. And, as you note, we now have 5!

Posted by: Doug B. | Jun 8, 2013 9:46:57 AM

Rachael Barkow's opinion piece in the NYT Room for Debate lays clearly states her thoughts about mandatory minimums. I believe this was published in Aug.2012. Oh here it is

Posted by: beth | Jun 8, 2013 3:14:56 PM

no need for breyer to recuse. he already votes to uphold the commission in every single case, so there's no marginal risk of bias attributable to his brother's presence.

Posted by: HGD | Jun 9, 2013 1:38:30 PM

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