Gorsuch Sides With Libs Against Tough Gun Crime Sentences, Kavanaugh Suggests Ruling Will Be A Disaster

Chris Menahan
Jun. 25, 2019

Justice Neil Gorsuch has shown once again he lives in a world guided by libertarian "principles."

From Fox News, Gorsuch Sides With Liberals in Shooting Down Tougher Sentences For Gun Crimes:
President Trump's two Supreme Court picks, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, were on opposing sides once again Monday in a case centering on whether a law that slaps harsher penalties on certain gun possession cases is unconstitutionally vague.

Gorsuch sided with liberal justices in a 5-4 decision in United States v. Davis, for which he wrote the opinion of the court. The law in question calls for longer sentences when a person uses a firearm in connection with a "crime of violence," which is defined as a felony "that by its nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force against the person or property of another may be used in the course of committing the offense." That definition is rather confusing, Gorsuch said.

"Even the government admits that this language ... provides no reliable way to determine which offenses qualify as crimes of violence and thus is unconstitutionally vague," he wrote. Vague laws leave it to unelected attorneys and judges to determine what acts qualify as crimes, Gorsuch said, when it is really Congress' job to make that decision with the laws that they pass.

In the current case, Maurice Davis [pictured right] and Andre Glover [pictured left] were convicted of robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery under the Hobbs Act, which covers robbery, attempted robbery, or extortion affecting interstate commerce. They were each hit with longer sentences because robbery and conspiracy were found to be "crimes of violence." An appeals court found that the clause in the statute defining crimes of violence was unconstitutionally vague.
You can read his full reasoning on Fox News, I don't want to quote too much of the article.

What's important to realize is that congress will do nothing to clarify these laws and will simply let the same crime wave we had before the bi-partisan Clinton crime bill happen again, though this time Hillary Clinton will not be out calling anyone "super predators" and we will instead have to just sit back and watch.

Though Gorsuch's reasoning may be sound, the real world effect is not likely to be positive.
"The Court’s decision today will make it harder to prosecute violent gun crimes in the future," Kavanaugh wrote. "The Court’s decision also will likely mean that thousands of inmates who committed violent gun crimes will be released far earlier than Congress specified when enacting §924(c)."

Kavanaugh addressed the two recent cases Gorsuch referenced where laws were held to be vague, saying those laws applied to gun cases where defendants had committed violent crimes in the past. The law in the current case adds harsher sentences for the same offense where the gun was used. As a result, he claimed, it makes sense to look at the specific offense.

"Why would we interpret a federal law that criminalizes current-offense conduct to focus on a hypothetical defendant rather than on the actual defendant?" he asked, calling this a "gaping hole" in the majority's analysis.
It's interesting how Trump ran as a law and order candidate but instead we got Jared Kushner's criminal justice reform and Neil Gorsuch's libertarian rulings potentially throwing open our nation's prisons.

Is there any chance a potential President Joe Biden will surprise us and also deliver the opposite of what he ran on?

His old views were further to the right than Trump's:

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