News Advisory
January 12, 2022


Comment of Honorable Charles R. Breyer
Acting Chair, U.S. Sentencing Commission,
on Statement of Justices Sotomayor and Barrett

In conjunction with a denial of writ of certiorari, Justice Sotomayor, joined by Justice Barrett, wrote:

It is the responsibility of the Sentencing Commission to address this division to ensure fair and uniform application of the Guidelines. Cf. Braxton v. United States, 500 U. S. 344, 348 (1991). In March 2021, I wrote concerning an unresolved Circuit split over the proper interpretation of a Guideline. See Longoria v. United States, 592 U. S. ___. The Sentencing Commission lacked a quorum of voting members then, and it still does today. At this point, the Sentencing Commission has not had a quorum for three full years. As the instant petition illustrates, the resultant unresolved divisions among the Courts of Appeals can have direct and severe consequences for defendants’ sentences. I hope in the near future the Commission will be able to resume its important function in our criminal justice system.

Acknowledging the Justices’ statement, Acting Chair Breyer said:

“I share in the sentiment expressed this week by Justices Sotomayor and Barrett. As I have said many times, it is critical that the White House nominate and the Senate confirm enough commissioners to allow the Commission to resume its important statutory function of updating the guidelines to address new policies, circuit conflicts, and changes in law. It is particularly frustrating that the Commission has been unable to implement significant changes made by the First Step Act of 2018, including changes to the procedures by which an offender can seek compassionate release.”

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