Biden’s Own Justice Flips on Him — Supreme Court Drops Major 9-0 Ruling

OPINION:  This article contains commentary which may reflect the author’s opinion

A new unanimous decision from the Supreme Court, which of course included his choice, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, stings the Biden administration.

The Supreme Court ruled on Friday, 9-0, that some people convicted of crimes involving firearms may have their jail sentences shortened. Gun-related charges may be sentenced concurrently in specific circumstances, according to The Epoch Times.

“Congress could certainly have designed the penalty scheme at issue here differently. But Congress did not do any of these things. And we must implement the design Congress chose,” Jackson penned in the decision.

The Epoch Times noted:

The case involves two subsections of 18 U.S.C. 924. Subsection (c) outlines offenses and penalties, and states that “no term of imprisonment imposed on a person under this subsection shall run concurrently with any other term of imprisonment imposed on the person.” Subsection (j), which was added more recently, outlines other offenses and corresponding penalties. It does not include language about forbidding concurrent sentences.

District courts frequently have the option to choose whether jail terms should be served concurrently or consecutively. The publication added that some regulations might make it illegal to impose consecutive sentences in some situations.

The case’s initiator, Efrain Lora, was found guilty of using or carrying a firearm while assisting someone who was engaged in drug trafficking or a violent crime. Lora was also found guilty of narcotics distribution conspiracy.

In 2002 in New York City, Lora and three accomplices killed a rival drug dealer as a result of a territorial dispute while dealing cocaine. Lora was sentenced based on a provision that forbids consecutive sentences for acts that entail one of the charges for which Lora was found guilty, according to U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe, who was appointed by President George W. Bush. For the conspiracy charge, Lora was given a 25-year sentence, and an additional five years were added for the other offense. Later, an appeals court upheld the judgment.

In addition, Lora contended that the judge should not have given him consecutive terms since the judge’s referenced law did not apply to the crimes of assisting and abetting. Federal prosecutors concurred and said in an appeal that the lower courts made the correct decision and that the Supreme Court was not required to revisit the matter.

But Lora won the support of all nine justices.

“Subsection (c)’s consecutive-sentence mandate applies only to the terms of imprisonment prescribed within subsection (c). A sentence imposed under subsection (j) does not qualify,” Jackson wrote. “Subsection (j) is located outside subsection (c) and does not call for imposing any sentence from subsection (c).”

“Combining the two subsections would set them on a collision course; indeed, in some cases, the maximum sentence would be lower than the minimum sentence,” she added.

The sentence was overturned as a result of the decision. The case was returned to a lower court by the top court for a new sentencing hearing.

“We are thrilled that the Court preserved the longstanding default of discretion in criminal sentencing, restoring courts’ discretion to impose either concurrent or consecutive sentences in this case and others like it,” Lawrence Rosenberg, part of the legal team representing Lora, said in a statement to news outlets. “The Court’s decision to enforce the plain text that Congress enacted will help ensure that a defendant’s sentence fits both the crime and the individual.”

In the oral arguments, Jackson also expressed doubt.

“I don’t understand why the government believes in this case that it’s entitled to the penalty structure that comes with Section (c) if a person is convicted of (c) when (j) doesn’t say and it could easily have said any person who’s convicted of subsection (c), et cetera,” she told Assistant to the Solicitor General Erica Ross. “I think it is certainly true that Congress could have been clearer in this provision,”

Ross answered. “My point was simply that it also doesn’t say what [Lora] is suggesting.”


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