Supreme Court Strikes Down ‘Vague’ 1980s-Era Law Imposing Extra Prison Time for ‘Crime of Violence’
The Supreme Court on Monday struck down part of a 1980s-era crime law that adds longer prison terms for offenders who carried a gun during a “crime of violence,” with Justice Neil M. Gorsuch speaking for the court and Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh in dissent.
The court by a 5-4 vote ruled for two Dallas men who were convicted of robbing several convenience stores and then were given an extra 25 years in prison for carrying a sawed-off shotgun during the crime.
The dispute highlights a sharp difference between President Trump’s two appointees. Gorsuch is a libertarian who is skeptical of the government, and Kavanaugh is a more traditional law-and-order conservative.
Gorsuch, speaking for the court, said the justices should not uphold “vague” laws that do not “give ordinary people fair warning about what the law demands of them.” Maurice Davis and Andre Glover were convicted of robberies. In addition, they were charged with a “conspiracy” to carry a gun during an act that “by its nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force will be used.” That conviction added 25 years to their terms, for a total of about 50 years for Davis and 41 for Glover.
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