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- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia
On April 20, 2015, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Johnson v. United States. This case concerns two questions. The first is whether mere possession of a short-barreled shotgun should be treated as a violent felony under the Armed Career Criminal Act. The second question asks whether the residual clause in the Armed Career Criminal Act, which mandates that a minimum sentence of fifteen years be imposed upon someone who unlawfully possesses a firearm and has had three prior "violent felony" convictions--with the phrase “violent felony” including any crime that “involves conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another”--is unconstitutionally vague.
To discuss the case, we have Richard Myers who is the Henry Brandis Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina School of Law.
The still-unfolding story of America’s Constitution is a history of heroes and villains—the flawed visionaries who inspired and crafted liberty’s safeguards, and the shortsighted opportunists who defied them. Those stories are known by few today.
In Our Lost Constitution, Senator Mike Lee tells the dramatic, little-known stories behind six of the Constitution’s most indispensable provisions. He shows their rise. He shows their fall. And he makes vividly clear how nearly every abuse of federal power today is rooted in neglect of this Lost Constitution. Senator Mike Lee joined a Teleforum conference call for a special discussion with Federalist Society members regarding his new book.
The “residual clause” of the Armed Career Criminal Act requires a mandatory minimum fifteen-year sentence for anyone who has three prior “violent felony” convictions and is found to unlawfully possess a firearm. This clause has been addressed at the Supreme Court on numerous occasions in recent years, with Justice Scalia suggesting that it is unconstitutionally vague. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Johnson v. United States in November with no mention of the question, and after two months of silence re-scheduled the case for additional argument and instructed the parties to address this question directly. Many Court-watchers have suggested that there may now be five votes on the Court to declare the residual clause unconstitutionally vague.
George Mason Law School Professor Ilya Somin previews an upcoming Supreme Court case in which Farmer Horne objects to an obscure government program stemming from 1930’s New Deal legislation in which raisin farmers are required to surrender a percentage of their crop to the Raisin Administrative Committee. Petitioner and farmer Horne claims that being forced to turn over a percentage of his raisin crop to the government violates the Takings Clause of the 5th Amendment. The government asserts that the Takings Clause does not apply to personal property, and even if it did, that Horne is fairly compensated because his overall profits are increased.
Professor Somin co-signed the amicus brief of Constitutional and Property Law Scholars in support of petitioner.
As always, the Federalist Society takes no position on particular legal or public policy issues; all expressions of opinion are those of the speaker.