Thursday, July 22, 2010
In his dissent in Booker, Judge Frank Easterbrook predicted dire consequences if the Supreme Court were to invalidate the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. Those consequences have not arisen, largely because the Court has ducked the implications of Judge Easterbrook’s pragmatic logic (and its own). But in an effort to salvage a set of workable sentencing rules, the Supreme Court has settled upon a division of institutional responsibilities that serves none of the parties involved in the criminal justice system well and fails to address the problem that catalyzed its intervention in the first instance. The Sentencing Commission may not have functioned perfectly, but the Supreme Court’s attempt at ad hoc institutional design seems unlikely to produce any better results.