The Biden administration is deeply troubled by a recent unanimous ruling by the Supreme Court, in which his preferred justice, Ketanji Brown Jackson, was reinstated.
On Friday, by a vote of 9-0, the Supreme Court determined that certain individuals convicted of offenses involving firearms may have their prison terms reduced. In certain circumstances, gun-related offenses may be sentenced concurrently, as stated in 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.
Often, district courts are presented with the decision of whether to administer imprisonment terms concurrently or consecutively. In certain circumstances, certain regulations may prohibit the imposition of consecutive sentences, according to the publication.
Efrain Lora, the instigator of the case, was convicted of possessing or using a firearm while aiding an individual involved in drug trafficking or a violent offense. Additionally, Lora was convicted of a conspiracy to distribute narcotics.
In 2002, while distributing cocaine in New York City, Lora and three accomplices murdered a rival drug distributor over a territorial dispute. Lora’s sentence was determined in accordance with a provision that prohibits consecutive sentences for conduct that involves one of the offenses against her, as stated by President George W. Bush-appointed U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe. Lora was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the conspiracy charge, with an additional five years being imposed for the other offense. A court of appeals subsequently affirmed the judgment.
Furthermore, Lora argued that the judge erred in imposing consecutive terms on him because the law cited by the judge did not pertain to the offenses of aiding and abetting. Federal prosecutors expressed agreement and stated in an appeal that the decision rendered by the lower courts was correct, thereby obviating the need for a reexamination of the matter by the Supreme Court.
However, Lora secured the approval of each of the 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 decision led to the reversal of the sentence. The case was remanded to a lower court for a new sentencing hearing by the highest court.
“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.”