Scalia’s Mark On Criminal Law: Juries, Confrontation


Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia may be most remembered in criminal law for helping form a coalition that ended up striking down mandatory federal sentencing guidelines. “I led the charge,” he told biographer Joan Biskupic of USA Today, who discussed her new book on Scalia, “American Original,” at the National Press Foundation yesterday in Washington, D.C. Biskupic interviewed Scalia about the 2000 Apprendi vs. New Jersey case that started the trend, in which Scalia, Justice John Paul Stevens, and three other justices agreed that only juries, not judges, could increase sentences based on factual evidence.

Scalia explained to Biskupic that he was not “in love with the jury necessarily,” but the Constitution means that “you don’t serve any time in jail unless the fact that is the predicate for that sentence has been found by a jury.” Another area of criminal law where Scalia has made a mark is in requiring that defendants be allowed to confront their accusers, with no exceptions for domestic violence caes.. He called the 2004 Crawford vs. Washington case on that subject, which the court’s liberals joined, “one of the ones I’m most proud of.”

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