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February 15, 2007

Justice Kennedy lectures the Senate on sentencing realities

In this recent post, I suggested that Justice Kennedy's view on Claiborne and Rita might be impacted by his concerns about the severity of federal guideline sentences.  Consequently, I was very intrigued to see Jan Crawford Greenburg reporting here on an extraordinary exchange between Justice Kennedy and members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on sentencing issues during Justice Kennedy's testimony before the Committee yesterday.

Fortunately, not only can everyone check out Jan's great post, you can also watch the exchange on video at this link.  The exchange come late in a two-hour session of testimony, a little after the 1:30 mark.  The exchange starts when  when Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democratic senator from Rhode Island new to the Judiciary Committee, asked Justice Kennedy about whether he thought, after Blakely and Booker, there is now an ideal balance between uniform sentencing rules and judicial discretion in the federal system.  Justice Kennedy's fascinating reaction to this question cannot be readily summarized; it makes for a riveting 10 minutes that just must be watched by all sentencing fans.

February 15, 2007 at 06:32 AM | Permalink


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Is anybody else having trouble with the link? Firefox simply doesn't recognize the "rtsp" protocol and IE loads the URL but says there's nothing there. Tried to poke my way through the C-Span website, but it led to the same place.

Posted by: JDB | Feb 15, 2007 8:16:19 AM

Justice Kennedy has been saying for a long time that sentences are too harsh. He has also been a consistent dissenter in the Apprendi line of cases.

I think this shows that Justice Kennedy doesn't tailor his votes to his policy preferences. He doesn't like these long sentences, but he doesn't believe he has any legal basis for overturning them.

Posted by: Marc Shepherd | Feb 15, 2007 11:35:18 AM

Justice Kennedy's observation--“Our sentences are too long, our sentences are too severe, our sentences are too harsh...there is no compassion in the system; there's no mercy in the system--should be the first sentence in every advocate's next sentencing letter.

Posted by: Michael Levine | Feb 15, 2007 4:05:04 PM

Re: rtsp

Install the Real Player to watch this video: www.real.com

Posted by: Elijah | Feb 23, 2007 12:40:26 PM

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