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The Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday in a constitutional challenge to a federal law that prosecutors say is essential to aggressively policing gun crimes.
The defendants, Maurice Davis and Andre Glover, were convicted of a string of armed robberies in Texas in June 2014. The pair is challenging one of laws under which they were convicted, arguing it is unconstitutionally vague. In turn, the government warned that criminal defendants could escape punishment for violent gun crimes if the law is struck down.
Facts - Case - Illustrate - Defendants - Prosecution
“As the facts of this case illustrate, defendants whose prosecution requires application of [this law] include some of the most violent criminals on the federal docket,” the government wrote in court filings.
Chief Justice John Roberts said those warnings are self-defeating, since they stack the deck against the government in future cases.
Government - Cases - Ante - Hands - Roberts
“The government in all of these cases keeps upping the ante, even though they continue to lose hands,” Roberts said.
“I would have thought you’d be more interested in saying that there are plausible distinctions in these other cases so that you don’t automatically stack the odds against you when that next case comes up,” he added.
Chief - Series - Cases - Johnson - US
The chief was referencing a series of cases that followed the 2015 Johnson v. U.S. decision, in which the Supreme Court said the phrase “violent felony” as defined in the Armed Career Criminal Act was unconstitutionally vague. As it happens, other federal statutes use language similar to the provision at issue in Johnson. The justices have struck down similar portions of the federal sentencing guidelines and the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) in view...
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