High Court Rules 5-4 For Crack Offenders in Sentencing-Law Dispute


The Supreme Court ruled today, 5 to 4, that criminals who were arrested but not yet sentenced for crack cocaine offenses should be able to take advantage of newly reduced sentences, reports the Associated Press. Corey Hill and Edward Dorsey were arrested in 2007 and 2008 for selling crack cocaine and faced mandatory 10-year sentences in Illinois.

They were not sentenced until after the Fair Sentencing Act went into effect in August 2010. That law reduces the difference between sentences for crimes committed by crack cocaine and powder cocaine users. Justice Stephen Breyer said the courts should have used the new law to sentence the two men. Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito dissented. It was another case in which Justice Anthony Kennedy sided with the court’s more-liberal Justices. The court will finish its term next week with rulings on major cases involving the Obama health care law, life-without-parole sentences for juveniles and immigration law enforcement.

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