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June 26, 2022

After historic week, SCOTUS still has a final few notable criminal justice cases to resolve

Earlier this month, I flagged in this post the six notable cases that I was most eagerly awaiting as a remarkable Supreme Court Term was coming to a close.  Four of those cases were resolved last week, with Taylor and Nance providing small wins for criminal defendants, and then Bruen and Dobbs producing big jurisprudential changes for gun rights and abortion practices.  In some other years, Bruen would be the Term's memorable case.  But the enduringly contentious issue of abortion, and the legal and political uncertainty following the full reversal of Roe and Casey, ensures that Dobbs will be the most consequential and debated case for many years to come.

But the Supreme Court still has final seven cases to resolve, three of which involve criminal justice matters.  The lingering criminal cases, some or all of which could be handed down as early as tomorrow morning, are not the highest profile of the remaining matters.  Cases involving the authority of the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases, detention policies at the southern border and a praying high school football coach are sure to get more attention than any of the criminal cases.  And yet, the three remaining criminal cases could still prove to be a big deal, and I will borrow here from Amy Howe's helpful accounting of them:

  1. Concepcion v. United States (argued Jan. 19): Whether, when a court is deciding whether to resentence a defendant under the First Step Act, which gives federal district courts power to resentence offenders in light of changes in the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, a district court must or may consider intervening developments, or whether such developments only come into play (if at all) after courts conclude that a sentence reduction is appropriate.
  2. Ruan v. United States (argued Mar. 1): Whether a doctor who has the authority to prescribe controlled substances can be convicted for unlawful distribution of those drugs when he reasonably believed that his prescriptions fell within professional norms.
  3. Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta (argued April 27): Whether a state has authority to prosecute defendants who are not Native Americans, but who commit crimes against Native Americans on land that Congress historically reserved for Native people. 

June 26, 2022 at 09:46 PM | Permalink


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