Wednesday, April 03, 2002

proportionality vs. voter rights---running debate
[The subject of the debate: two cases, dealing with the three strikes laws in California. The Supreme Court has decided to rule upon them. How will they rule? Why? How should they rule?]

The first thing the U.S. Supreme Court will have to tackle, when deciding the California cases (Lockyer v. Andrade, 01-1127, and Ewing v. California, 01-6978) is whether they will continue to follow Solem v. Helm (463 U.S. 277).

Under Solem, the Court stated that although the state legislatures [and presumably state voters] are afforded substantial deference, there is no state mandated sentence that is per se, constitutional. The Solem court ruled that the sentence for the triggering crime must be proportionate to that crime.

I anticipate that the first part of Bill's argument, and probably the meat of it, is that the Court should now follow Solem, and find that the California sentences are disproportionate and thus unconstitutional. I will go out on a limb and predict that this Court will decline to follow (overturn) Solem.

I think instead that the Court will uphold the California sentences and reiterate the language of Harmelin v. Michigan..." We conclude from this examination that Solem was simply wrong; the Eighth Amendment contains no pro-portionality guarantee."

If I am wrong, I doubt very seriously that the Court will declare California's statute unconstitutional, they would more likely just reverse those particular sentences.

If I am doubly wrong I will be picking crow feathers from my mustache for quite a while.

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