Scalia, Alito Split On Federal Criminal Law

In James v. US, a case interpreting the Armed Career Criminal Act (I confess I had no idea this law existed before today), Justice Scalia and Alito disagreed. Justice Alito, writing for the Court, opined that "attempted burglary," as defined by Florida law, is a "violent offense" under the ACCA, relevant to the sentencing of James. Three prior "violent offenses" convictions, as defined by the ACCA, mandated a 15 year sentence.

In dissent, Justice Scalia objected to Alito's opinion, arguing that Alito gave no guidance to lower courts for determining what "residual offenses" would fall under the ACCA's "violent offenses" provision, labeling Alito's approach "entirely ad hoc."

Scalia invokes ejusdem generis, and advocates for the standard that "residual offenses" must be at least as likely to cause violence as the least risky specific offense listed. Applying this standard, Scalia finds attempted burglary is even less risky than what he deems to be the least risky offense, burglary. That last conclusion obviously makes sense. I would not venture a guess on the rest of his analysis.

< New Campaign: Find Habeas | Giuliani Agrees With Decision on Partial Birth Abortion Ban >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    This is not new. "Scalito" is a lie. (none / 0) (#1)
    by Gabriel Malor on Wed Apr 18, 2007 at 01:59:47 PM EST
    Scalia and Alito came out in opposite sides of three cases which were handed down yesterday, too. This isn't new. "Scalito" is just rhetorical tarring.

    Global Crossing Telecommunications, Inc. v. Metrophone Telecommunications, Inc.

    Zuni Public School District v. Department of Education.

    Watters v. Wachovia Bank.

    On Con Law issues (none / 0) (#2)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Apr 18, 2007 at 02:04:46 PM EST
    it is absolutely true.