Durbin, Grassley, Booker Call on Ninth Circuit To Uphold Congressional Intent Of First Step Act Provision In Bipartisan Amicus Brief
May 12, 2020
WASHINGTON – Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), lead authors and sponsors of the First Step Act – landmark criminal justice reform legislation – today submitted a bipartisan Amicus Brief to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in United States of America v Alan L. Mapuatuli, a case related to the reduction of the second strike and third strike drug mandatory minimums.
The bipartisan Brief argues that Congress intended the First Step Act (FSA) to apply at post-FSA sentencing hearings, including when a defendant is before a court for sentencing after his or her initial sentence was vacated on appeal. Congress intended to cover these cases by stating that the FSA applies “if a sentence for the offense has not been imposed” as of the FSA’s date of enactment. However, the Justice Department is litigating the contrary position in United States of America v Alan L. Mapuatuli.
The Members wrote: “… the interpretation advanced by the Executive Branch and adopted by the district court in this case is contrary to Congress’s language and intent. Reduced to its simplest form, that interpretation assumes that Congress intended to give legal effect to sentences that otherwise are void. That assumption finds no support in the statutory text, contradicts the fundamental considerations that motivated Congress to enact the First Step Act, and produces inequitable outcomes that undermine the fairness and legitimacy of our criminal justice system. That unquestionably is not what Congress intended. For these reasons, amici respectfully submit that the district court’s judgment should be vacated and the case remanded for resentencing in conformity with the First Step Act.”
Click here to read the full Amicus Brief.