Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Residual Clause of Career Offender Enhancement Void for Vagueness

Building on the Supreme Court's decision that the residual clause of the ACCA is void for vagueness, the Sixth Circuit struck down the residual clause of the career offender enhancement. In a per curiam decision, the Court recognized that it had "previously interpreted both residual clauses identically." And it noted that the Supreme Court vacated sentences involving the career offender enhancement after deciding Johnson. Only enumerated offenses may now be used to apply either the ACCA or the career offender enhancement. 

Following Johnson, Congress and the Sentencing Commission will need to decide whether to substitute a more extensive list of qualifying offenses rather than rely on amorphous descriptions of possible candidate offenses. But if such a list yet requires any judicial factfinding, then that list may be subject to Sixth Amendment concerns (as reiterated by Justice Thomas in his concurring opinion).

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