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January 15, 2008

SCOTUS oral argument transcripts in ACCA cases

As previewed here, today the Supreme Court heard oral argument in US v. Rodriquez (06-1646) and Begay v. US (06-11543), two cases exploring whether certain prior state offenses should trigger the severe mandatory minimum sentencing terms Congress provided in the Armed Career Criminal Act (known as ACCA).   The oral argument transcripts from these two cases are now available here and here

I have now printed out these two transcripts and will take them home for evening consumption (along with my federal-judicial bucket o' brew).

UPDATE: Both transcripts make for interesting reads, and some deep conceptual and jurisprudential issues get covered in Rodriquez.  As in other ACCA cases, it seems that Justice Scalia is most concerned about the governments efforts to give an unclear statute an unduly broad reading.  Indeed, at the end of the Rodriquez, when the government asserts that a narrow reading of the statute could lead to "pernicious consequences," Justice Scalia responds: "It's good to put more people in jail?  I mean, that isn't necessarily what we're after."  Of course, this does seem to be what DOJ is usually after when it presses broad readings of ACCA.

January 15, 2008 at 04:51 PM | Permalink


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That does seem to be the point, if you happen to be employed by certain agencies, such as prosecuting attorneys are...

Posted by: Major Mori | Jan 19, 2008 12:54:13 AM

So it does seem encouraging that one justice seems to be concerned that it may be getting a bit too easy to sock people away in jail (and forget about them?). Of course, that's now being discovered to be the expensive approach. Perhaps the concern is leaning towards a more targeted delivery of punishment to fit the crime, and to advance the causes of individual justice, offender improvement, and reformation.

Posted by: Major Mori | Jan 19, 2008 1:03:25 AM

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