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March 2, 2018

Lots of notable reaction to Prez Trump's nominations to the US Sentencing Commission

As reported in this prior post, Prez Trump yesterday announced these notable new nominations to the US Sentencing Commission.  Usually, only hard-core sentencing nerds like me play much attention to USSC nominations, but this slate of nominees, especially the nomination of Bill Otis, has led to some notable media attention.  Here are some of the commentary I have already seen: 

From The Daily Caller, "Trump's Sentencing Commission Nominees Show He May Not Be That Angry At Jeff Sessions"

From Mother Jones"'I Live to Put People in Jail': Here Are Trump's Nominees for the US Sentencing Commission"

From Reason, "Trump Nominates Man Who Called for Abolishing US Sentencing Commission to US Sentencing Commission"

From Slate, "Trump picked a mass-incarceration advocate obsessed with 'black-on-black' crime for a job setting federal sentences"

From Splinter, "Trump Nominates the Last Person You'd Ever Want to Help Oversee the Criminal Justice System"

And perhaps best highlighting how this one nomination is not like the others, here is the text of this press release from Families Against Mandatory Minimums released just a few hours after Prez Trump announced his new USSC picks:

FAMM president Kevin Ring issued the following statement on William Otis, one of four nominees put forward today by the Trump administration for the U.S. Sentencing Commission, the administrative body that writes and updates the federal sentencing guidelines used to sentence more than 70,000 people each year in federal courts:

FAMM has never taken a position before on U.S. Sentencing Commission nominees, but we feel compelled to change that policy in light of today’s announcement.  Mr. Otis’s outdated views are well-known and well-documented.  This is not a person who will be guided by evidence and data.  The Senate should reject this nomination.

Prior related post:

March 2, 2018 at 12:19 AM | Permalink


One notes the attacks have come swiftly, have been personal, and have been misleading, as usual.

Posted by: David Behar | Mar 2, 2018 12:49:36 AM

The Otis nomination feels like a political strategy designed to distract from the similar but maybe less public views of other nominations. I doubt there is any serious expectation he will be accepted by the Senate. The debate on the need for reform has moved too far for a reversal on the scale Otis represents. Yesterday's man, with huge responsibility for the damaging policies that continue to blight American justice systems.

Posted by: peter | Mar 2, 2018 1:01:57 AM

Behar, how did you escape the asylum again? I want to learn your trick.

Posted by: Houdini | Mar 2, 2018 10:01:28 AM

Houdini. You are funny. You believe in mind reading, future forecasting, and that standards of conduct should be set by a fictitious character. Cuckoo, cuckoo, cuckoo. Ding.

Posted by: David Behar | Mar 2, 2018 12:38:16 PM

Peter, the odds of the Senate majority rejecting Otis are slim and none. There is no filibuster, so defeating his nomination requires at least two Republicans to vote no. Additionally, there are several Senate Democrats up for election in conservative states that will likely support his nomination. While 60 votes are probably out of reach in today's partisan environment, his nomination is the type that twenty years ago would have been a voice vote. My hunch says 55-58 votes in favor of confirmation.

Posted by: tmm | Mar 2, 2018 2:37:58 PM

I think tmm is being realistic [can see someone like Rand Paul voting "no"] but Otis is so controversial that merely a voice vote, if only so a minority will get a chance to be on record, seems a bit questionable.

Posted by: Joe | Mar 2, 2018 4:24:53 PM

It's so funny how conservative law and order types like Bill Otis are somehow controversial, but left-wing lunatics like Chai Feldblum aren't.

Go look at the MSM press coverage of Keith Ellison, the current vice-chair of the DNC---did NPR accuse him of making "racially-tinged" remarks? Would people like Joe call him "controversial?" Of course not---but Otis is controversial and gets the smear tactics.

If Otis deserves the "racially-tinged" treatment from NPR, why didn't Sotomayor get that same treatment for her actually racist wise Latina comment?

Posted by: federalist | Mar 2, 2018 7:36:27 PM

Joe. The law school radicalized freaks on this blog are the weirdos. Bill is totally mainstream, and articulates the common sense feelings of most real Americans about sentencing. I can assure you of that, as ambassador to the lawyer profession from Earth.

You freaks are too stupid to recognize the greatest lawyer achievement of the 20th Century, the 40% drop in crime across the board from mandatory sentencing guidelines. That achievement saved your profession. It saved 10's of 1000's of black lives not murdered. It was the real Black Lives Matter movement. It was followed by an unprecedented economic boom, with low crime as a major factor.

It did cut lawyer employment, and that is the sole reason all you lawyers are really stupid about the guidelines. Hang 'Em High Scalia led the intellectual charge across several decisions, with his Sixth Amendment false arguments. That leadership proves the rent will obliterate all ideologies, even extreme ones, when it comes to lawyer profession employment.

Posted by: David Behar | Mar 2, 2018 9:56:18 PM

From Reason, "Trump Nominates Man Who Called for Abolishing US Sentencing Commission to US Sentencing Commission"

So, yes, I think one can say Otis is "controversial." The term is not a dig per se. People who are controversial very well can be worthwhile.

If a liberal leaning sort, who has over the years equally been controversial the other way as Otis, including calling for the establishment of the thing they were nominated for, I would equally say that given such a controversial nomination that there would be a good chance that the dissenting votes would like to do so on the record.

Posted by: Joe | Mar 2, 2018 10:28:51 PM

Establishment. Lol. Meant abolishment. New year, same typos.

But, heck, either might work if a strong faction of the Senate doesn't like the person and thinks they are too liberal. Anyway, I'm setting forth a neutral principle here, though different people will be inclined to be upset about different nominees.

Posted by: Joe | Mar 2, 2018 10:33:07 PM

What could possibly go wrong appointing a man who gets his news from YourNewsWire.com to a position in the federal government? (see Bill's post at http://www.crimeandconsequences.com/crimblog/2018/02/should-judges-have-sentencing-.html) My comments on that post must have touched a nerve as my account was deactivated and commenter registration was turned off (http://www.crimeandconsequences.com/crimblog/2018/02/commenter-registration.html)

Now Kent has a post at the site titled "A Popular Legal Blog", where he writes:

"Kristine Phillips has this post at the WaPo on the nomination. She refers to Bill's writing "on a popular legal blog." Can't mention us by name, I guess, but the name is in the URL linking the post, so it's all good."

From the Washington Post article that Kent is referencing:

"Otis, a former federal prosecutor who’s now an adjunct law professor at Georgetown University, is perhaps also best known in the legal community for his commentaries on the Crime and Consequences blog, which describes itself as the voice that represents the “perspective of victims of crime and law-abiding public.”
- https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/politics/wp/2018/03/02/trump-picks-tough-on-crime-crusader-with-history-of-racial-remarks-for-criminal-justice-post/?utm_term=.329ecc520eba

YourNewsWire.com is used as a source for one of the blog's writers, and the other writer explicitly states that an article doesn't mention something that it explicitly mentions. The commentary and rhetoric of Kent and Bill is just kind of sloppy.

Posted by: anonuser879 | Mar 3, 2018 1:02:20 AM

Anonuser879. Do you have any substantive point to make?

Posted by: David Behar | Mar 3, 2018 4:50:09 AM

Kent, like Otis, is a DP fanatic. Over the last several years he has become more like, Otis. So much for his former reputation as an objective, intelligent, criminal justice observer.

Posted by: anon1960 | Mar 3, 2018 11:41:11 AM

Anon1960. Stop the ad hominem attacks. They ate inappropriate.

Posted by: David Behar | Mar 3, 2018 3:28:40 PM

By your logic, Joe, anyone who thought the CFPB has completely overreached and is unconstitutional shouldn't be part of it---but those views are clearly mainstream.

Posted by: federalist | Mar 4, 2018 2:19:38 PM

"By your logic, Joe, anyone who thought the CFPB has completely overreached and is unconstitutional shouldn't be part of it---but those views are clearly mainstream."

Not. By my logic, anyone who thought that would be controversial, especially if there are various other reasons for that label. The idea Bill Otis is not "controversial" is to me pretty silly. You might find his positions copacetic, which is fine, but that isn't the same thing. Still, to the degree you are misreading me in a more non-partisan way, I appreciate it.

Posted by: Joe | Mar 4, 2018 2:32:36 PM

I think the "clearly mainstream" framing is debatable, but getting in the weeds there is not very useful. I'll just repeat myself:

"The term is not a dig per se. People who are controversial very well can be worthwhile."

Posted by: Joe | Mar 4, 2018 2:41:29 PM

Controversial. Wants to abolish the agency he will be serving.

Could still be worthwhile.

The weasel is chewing on my brain. Make up your damn mind, already.

The real Americans who put Trump in office wanted to burn it down. He is a slow, plodding, weak leader. He is a NYC lib, who attended a Clinton wedding.

A real leader would have fired the entire Obama complement and the deep state the first week in office, ready with the list of the enemies to our country.

The purges should include the proposal of impeachment of the entire Supreme Court. These are Harvard and Yale radicalized traitors, in insurrection against the constitution. Even dissenters from their crazy decisions are collaborators in the violation of Article I Article 1, giving "all" law making powers to the Congress. If you morons want judicial review, get an Amendment ratified.

Posted by: David Behar | Mar 4, 2018 5:40:17 PM

Behar, please, please tell me how you do the escape-from-the-asylum trick. No matter how many times they lock you up, you manage to get out. Want to join my act?

Posted by: Houdini | Mar 6, 2018 12:52:34 AM

Houdini. The insanity of dissenters is from the KGB Handbook. Stop digging around in wet garbage for your sources of criticism.

Posted by: David Behar | Mar 7, 2018 2:07:04 PM

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