Supreme Court: ‘Thousands’ Of Inmates Denied Chance At Shorter Sentences

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The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday ruled against a convicted drug dealer on Friday that had implications for thousands of federal prisoners seeking shorter sentences.

In an uncommon ideological split of 6-3, the court ruled that Mark Pulsifer, who admitted guilt to distributing methamphetamines in 2020, could not avail himself of a provision within the First Step Act, a substantial sentencing reform law, NBC News reported.

The question at hand revolved around whether Pulsifer should face a mandatory 15-year sentence or be eligible for a “safety valve” provision. The provision outlines conditions under which a lesser sentence could be applied to nonviolent, low-level drug offenders, the outlet reported.

In a decision authored by liberal Justice Elena Kagan, the court concluded that Pulsifer failed to fulfill the requisite criteria. She was supported in the majority by five of the court’s six conservative justices.

The provision in question delineates a set of criteria for imposing sentences below the mandatory minimums. The court determined that Pulsifer must satisfy all the stipulations, dismissing his contention that meeting some criteria would suffice for relief. The decision hinged, in part, on the court’s interpretation of the term “and,” said the outlet.

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Congress “did not extend safety-valve relief to all defendants, but only to some,” Kagan wrote. Conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch dissented, joined by the two remaining liberal justices, Sonia Sotomayor and Ketanji Brown Jackson.

Gorsuch claimed that the high court substantially limited the objective of the First Step Act.

“Adopting the government’s preferred interpretation guarantees that thousands more people in the federal justice system will be denied a chance — just a chance — at an individualized sentence. For them, the First Step Act offers no hope.”

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court dealt another blow to Gov. Greg Abbott’s efforts to secure his state’s border with Mexico after years of dealing with migrant surges thanks to President Joe Biden’s lack of enforcement.

Justice Samuel Alito, who oversees the 5th Circuit district, further delayed Texas’ implementation of its immigrant deportation laws related to Senate Bill 4, Newsweek reported. The deadline is now extended until 5 p.m. on March 18th.

The new law was set to go into effect later this month and would allow for the arrest of people who are illegally in the state and country.

Earlier, “Alito issued the administrative hold, which will block the law from taking effect until March 13. That temporary pause will give the court additional time to review the case but does not necessarily signal which way the court is leaning,” CNN reported at the time.

The order came after several pro-mass immigration groups and the Biden administration filed an emergency application with the nation’s highest court after an appeals court gave Texas the green light to begin enforcing its law.

CNN added: “Senate Bill 4, signed into law by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in December, immediately raised concerns among immigration advocates about increased racial profiling as well as detentions and attempted deportations by state authorities in Texas, where Latinos represent 40% of the population. Last week, a federal judge in Austin, Texas, blocked the state government from implementing the law.”

“If allowed to proceed, SB 4 could open the door to each state passing its version of immigration laws,” Judge David Alan Ezra wrote in his ruling that the federal appeals court eventually overturned.

The case comes after Biden visited Brownsville, Texas, ostensibly to address the chaotic border Republicans say he created when he revoked nearly all of former President Donald Trump’s strict enforcement policies on his first day in office.

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The union representing the U.S. Border Patrol chided and mocked Biden after he visited a sector in Texas last week that does not get a lot of illegal migrant activity.

Biden’s visit drew the ire of the nation’s premier border protection service as the union appeared to characterize the trip as window dressing in an election year as illegal immigration shoots to the top of the list of concerns among a majority of Americans.

“Board AF1, take nap. Wake up in place called Brownsville,” the group wrote on the X platform in a joking about Biden’s itinerary. “Read large teleprompter message, ‘It’s all Trump’s fault.’ Board AF1, ask who people in green uniforms were, told they ‘strap’ illegal aliens, express horror, take nap. Wake up, call a lid, hit beach, take nap.”

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