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Supreme Court Decisions

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The US Supreme Court today decided Pepper v. United States and Snyder v. Phelps.

The particular issue in Pepper is whether, when a case comes back to the trial court after a successful appeal, the judge can consider in sentencing evidence of the defendant's rehabilitation while the case was on appeal.  The Court says yes, to no one's surprise.  The more interesting aspect of the case is in the discussions about guideline sentencing versus discretionary sentencing more generally.  From Justice Alito's separate opinion:

Some language in today's opinion reads like a paean to that old regime, and I fear that it may be interpreted as sanctioning a move back toward the system that prevailed prior to 1984. If that occurs, I suspect that the day will come when the irrationality of that system is once again seen, and perhaps then the entire Booker line of cases will be reexamined.
Congress really needs clean up the mess from Booker.

Snyder involves a common-law infliction of emotional distress suit against the repugnant Phelpsians and their bizarre practice of staging protests at military funerals.  The suit in this case was based on the content of speech and therefore violated the First Amendment.  However,

Maryland now has a law imposing restrictions on funeral picketing, ... as do 43 other States and the Federal Government... To the extent these laws are content neutral, they raise very different questions from the tort verdict at issue in this case. Maryland's law, however, was not in effect at the time of the events at issue here, so we have no occasion to consider how it might apply to facts such as those before us, or whether it or other similar regulations are constitutional.

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