Supreme Court Justice Urges Shorter Sentences; Justice Kennedy Wants Repeal of Mandatory Sentences after Voting That They Are Constitutional

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), August 10, 2003 | Go to article overview

Supreme Court Justice Urges Shorter Sentences; Justice Kennedy Wants Repeal of Mandatory Sentences after Voting That They Are Constitutional


Byline: Frank J. Murray, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy last night proposed repeal of mandatory minimum sentences and mercy for those serving them, five months after he cast the deciding vote to allow California to give petty thieves 50 years to life.

"Our resources are misspent, our punishments too severe, our sentences too long," Justice Kennedy said in San Francisco, where he delivered the keynote speech of the American Bar Association's annual meeting.

"It is a grave mistake to retain a policy just because a court finds it constitutional," he said in an obvious reference to the court's March 5 ruling upholding the California "three strikes" law requiring a minimum of 25 years for a felon with serious prior offenses even if the third strike is a misdemeanor.

Justice Kennedy voted with the majority in two 5-4 decisions that day, upholding the nation's longest mandatory minimum sentence for nonviolent larceny or other "petty" offenses.

Last night Justice Kennedy called on the 410,000-member organization of lawyers to crusade against such sentences and other "inadequacies and the injustices" in the nation's prisons and sentencing policies.

"Courts may conclude the legislature is permitted to choose long sentences, but that does not mean long sentences are wise or just," he told fellow lawyers, noting the nation spends $40 billion a year to confine prisoners.

He urged the ABA to lobby legislatures to abandon mandatory minimums, influence governors to use their pardon powers to reduce long terms and seek changes in federal sentence guideline.

Erwin Chemerinsky, the University of Southern California law professor who unsuccessfully argued to the Supreme Court that Leandro Andrade's 50-years-to-life sentence for stealing videotapes violated the Eighth Amendment, welcomed the proposals but questioned Justice Kennedy's continued stand that such severe sentences are constitutional.

"I just find it hard to reconcile what he's saying with his decisive vote for the conclusion that it's not cruel and unusual punishment to put a person in prison for life where the individual never committed a violent felony," Mr. Chemerinsky said in a telephone interview about the speech.

"I applaud what Justice Kennedy says. Just because the Supreme Court said it's constitutional doesn't mean it's desirable. I do think it makes no sense in a time of huge budget shortfalls, if it ever makes sense, to put people in prison for 50 years for shoplifting," Mr.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Supreme Court Justice Urges Shorter Sentences; Justice Kennedy Wants Repeal of Mandatory Sentences after Voting That They Are Constitutional
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.