Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy has praised federal judges who are willing to depart from buck sentencing rules that were enacted for what the justice suggested were political motives, says the Associated Press. “I do think federal judges who depart downward are courageous,” Kennedy told the House Appropriations Committee in a hearing on the court’s budget. Judges should not have to “follow, blindly, these unjust guidelines,” he said.
Kennedy has criticized harsh sentencing rules, especially for nonviolent drug offenders. Yesterday, he singled out mandatory minimum sentences for certain crimes. “The mandatory minimums enacted by the Congress are in my view unfair, unjust, unwise,” Kennedy said.
The U.S. Sentencing Commission, which sets the guidelines, is considering changes in penalties for corporate wrongdoing and public corruption.
Recent financial scandals make changes urgent, U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan of Pennsylvania said. “We have seen in stark terms and on a grand scale the costs – to identifiable victims and to the economy at large – of financial and other organizational crime,” she told the panel yesterday.