July 22, 2004 - The Wall Street Journal (US)
Senators Press Court to Resolve Sentencing Rift
By Gary Fields And Laurie P. Cohen
WASHINGTON - Members of the Senate passed by unanimous
consent a resolution asking the Supreme Court to resolve questions
over the constitutionality of the federal sentencing guidelines.
The House is expected to consider the measure this week.
The bipartisan resolution, rare at a time when political acrimony
is running high, shows how critical the subject is considered
to be. Its passage means that all three branches of government
-- legislative, judicial and executive -- have requested expedited
action by the Supreme Court to provide clarity to its ruling
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against state guidelines
in the case Blakely v. Washington. That decision said
that any factor increasing a criminal sentence must be admitted
by the defendant in a plea deal or proved to a jury effectively
barring a judge from using information in increasing a defendant's
sentence that wasn't heard or decided by the jury. The ruling
was related to guidelines used in Washington state, but the ramifications
of the ruling have been most acutely felt in the federal system.
(Remainder snipped at the request of The Wall Street