Friday, September 14, 2012

United States v. Smith case brief

United States v. Smith
        1. Defendant challenged the 100:1 for crack and powder under § 841 as being unconstitutionally vague.
        2. Sixth Circuit upheld the use of the ratio.
        3. Reasoning: 1) Scientific evidence suggests substantial differences between powder and crack as substances. 2) The ratio doesn’t violate substantive due process because Congress didn’t act arbitrarily or irrationally in establishing it. 3) Because §841 serves as a Sentencing Guideline, it is a guide for judges in sentencing and not for citizens in describing various levels of illegal conduct. Thus, it does not suffer from vagueness.
        4. Concurring judge – Disagrees with the premises that crack is substantively different from cocaine, that it is more addictive, and that it poses a greater threat to society. He is also concerned that the relative harshness of sentencing for crack offenses tends to punish black males disproportionately.

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