- Professor William Otis, Georgetown Law
Immigration law and enforcement have been on the front pages for the last several years, and that shows no signs of changing. One aspect to our national debate on immigration that hasn't received as much attention as it should is the effect that the several states can have on the issue. Through its policing powers and criminal sentencing guidelines, a state can influence who the federal immigration authorities can remove from the country. Our experts discussed the important constitutional issues that these trends present.
Although prison populations at the federal level have very recently declined for the first time in decades, prisoner population at the state level rose. The cost of crime, some that can be measured and some that are impossible to measure, is undoubtedly high, but so too is the cost of incarceration. Are we striking the right balance in length of sentences? And what is the proper balance between latitude and sentencing guidelines for judges? Do the answers to these questions differ for the state versus the federal criminal justice system?
The Federalist Society's Criminal Law & Procedure Practice Group presented this panel on "Criminal Sentencing Reform: A Conversation among Conservatives" on Friday, November 14, during the 2014 National Lawyers Convention.
On April 23, 2014, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Paroline v. United States. The question in this child pornography case was what, if any, causal relationship or nexus between the defendant's conduct and the victim's harm or damages must the government or the victim establish in order to recover restitution under 18 U.S.C. Sec. 2259.
In an opinion delivered by Justice Kennedy, the Court held that restitution is proper under §2259 only to the extent the defendant’s offense proximately caused a victim’s losses. Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Alito, and Kagan joined the opinion of the Court. Chief Justice Roberts authored a dissenting opinion, which Justices Scalia and Thomas joined. Justice Sotomayor wrote a separate dissenting opinion. By a vote of 5-4, the decision of the Fifth Circuit was vacated and remanded.
To discuss the case, we have John G. Malcolm, Director, Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, The Heritage Foundation and Paul Cassell, Ronald N. Boyce Presidential Professor of Criminal Law, University of Utah College Of Law.