une 3, 2013
As expected, feds ask full Sixth Circuit to review and reverse Blewett crack retroactivity rulingAs covered via a number posts on this blog, a split Sixth Circuit panel decided in Blewett, based on Equal Protection principles, that the new lower statutory mandatory-minimum thresholds for crack offenses established in the Fair Sentencing Act are applicable in motions to reduce otherwise-final sentences for incarcerated offenders. (The Blewett panel ruling was first discussed in this post, and further here and here.)
As predicted in these posts, the federal government is not happy with this ruling, and late Friday it finally filed a petition for rehearing en banc. Here is the opening paragraph of the argument section from that filing, which can be downloaded below:
The majority’s holding is legally incorrect, in conflict with prior Sixth Circuit decisions, in conflict with the law of every other circuit, and inconsistent with Dorsey. Moreover, the effect of the decision will be widespread if it is allowed to stand. The panel majority’s core reasoning is seriously flawed in multiple respects, but two central errors highlight the need for en banc consideration. Download Blewett_petition for rehearingI would be truly shocked if the full Sixth Circuit did not grant this petition for rehearing. Indeed, in my view the only real procedural questions now are (1) how long will it take the full Sixth Circuit to grant the petition, and (2) what kind of briefing and argument schedule will be set for this important case. (I would urge the Sixth Circuit to give plenty of time for briefing because I know that a number of public policy groups are likely to be eager to file amicus briefs in this matter.)
As I briefly explained in my first post on Blewett, I think a Fifth Amendment equal protection theory used by the majority in the Blewett panel decision provides a very shaky constitutional foundation for giving the new crack statutory sentences of the FSA retroactive effect. But I also think, in the wake of the passage of the Fair Sentencing Act and the USSC's implementation of its new 18-1 crack guidelines retroactively, that a proper application of the Eighth Amendment could provide a more reasoned and reasonable basis to give full retroactive effect to all the provisions of the FSA.
Related posts on Blewett:
- On (wrong?) constitutional grounds, split Sixth Circuit panel gives full retroactive effect to new FSA crack sentences
- "Crackheaded Ruling by Sixth Circuit"
- How quickly can and will (hundreds of) imprisoned crack defendants file "Blewett claims"?
- Two weeks later, has there been any significant and noteworthy Blewett blowback?