CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Heilman on Vague Sentencing Guidelines

Kelsey Heilman has posted Why Vague Sentencing Guidelines Violate the Due Process Clause (Oregon Law Review, Forthcoming) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

The United States Sentencing Guidelines are the mandatory starting point and the lodestone for the sentences of 75,000 federal defendants each year. Though advisory after the 2005 Supreme Court decision in United States v. Booker, the Guidelines continue to exert tremendous influence over federal sentencing practice. Last term, in Johnson v. United States, the Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutionally vague a sentencing provision of the Armed Career Criminals Act. In the ensuing year, a circuit split developed regarding whether that decision dooms a textually identical provision of the Guidelines, with some courts holding advisory sentencing guidelines are completely immune from due process challenges. In this Article, I argue the Guidelines violate the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution if they are so vague they deny fair notice to defendants and invite arbitrary enforcement by judges.

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/crimprof_blog/2016/05/heilman-on-vague-sentencing-guidelines.html

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