Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg stunned many this week and sided with conservatives on a key case.
The Supreme Court found on Monday that a criminal defendant can be sentenced for violating their supervised release, even if the release expires while they are in jail while facing new charges.
Ginsburg, arguably the most liberal Justice on the Court, joined conservative Justices Clarence Thomas, John Roberts, Samuel Alito, and Brett Kavanaugh in the majority.
Justice Neil Gorsuch joined liberal Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan in opposing the decision.
In the 5-4 decision, the Justices ruled against Jason Mont’s argument that a district court shouldn’t be able to charge him for violating his release because the term had expired at the time of the new sentencing.
Here’s more from The Hill:
Mont had previously been convicted on felony drug and gun charges and served 84 months in prison before beginning a five-year supervised release due to end in March 2017.
However, he faced other charges in 2015 and 2016 and was incarcerated in state jail in June 2016. After several delays of a hearing, a district court heard and ruled that Mont had violated his supervised release and imposed another prison sentence.
Mont had opposed the new 42-month sentence, set to run after completing the sentence for his new charges, which he pleaded guilty to. He said that he shouldn’t face the new sentence because the court had repeatedly delayed the hearing until after the end date for his supervised release term.
Thomas wrote in the majority opinion that “time in pretrial detention constitutes supervised release only if the charges against the defendant are dismissed or the defendant is acquitted.”
“This ensures that the defendant is not faulted for conduct he might not have committed, while otherwise giving full effect to the lawful judgment previously imposed on the defendant.”
However, Sotomayor wrote in the dissenting opinion that she doesn’t agree with the majority’s reasoning “that a person ‘is imprisoned in connection with a conviction’ before any conviction has occurred.”
President Donald Trump adding two conservative judges to the Supreme Court has already had a major effect on big cases and rulings.
Last month, the nation’s highest court ruled 5-4 that death row inmates do not have a Constitutionally protected right to a painless execution.
A Missouri man convicted in a brutal rape and murder can be executed by lethal injection because he is not guaranteed a “painless death,” the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday, quashing Russell Bucklew’s bid to avoid the needle because of his rare medical condition.
In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court granted Missouri the right to proceed with execution protocol for Bucklew, who was sentenced to death for the 1996 murder of Michael Sanders, who was dating Bucklew’s ex-girlfriend. Bucklew had previously assaulted the couple and stalked his former lover the day of the murder in order to find out where she was living. After shooting and killing Sanders, Bucklew fired at his former girlfriend’s 6-year-old child — and missed — before kidnapping the woman and raping her several times. He was eventually arrested after a car chase and police shootout.
The vote was along party lines, so the addition of Kavanaugh played a big role in the case.