Sentencing Guidelines Headline Supreme Court Docket

By John S. McClenahen As the U.S. Supreme Court gets ready to open a new term on Oct. 4, two cases with possible wide application, including business executives, dominate the docket. At issue are U.S. sentencing guidelines that allow a judge to impose harsher legal penalties based on facts not found by juries or admitted by the defendants. The questions in United States v. Freddie J. Booker (No. 04-104) and United States v. Duncan Fanfan (No. 04-105) are whether such judge-enhanced sentences violate the U.S. Constitution's Sixth Amendment and, if so, what should be done about them. As of mid-September, the Court had accepted Commerce Clause cases involving interstate shipping -- Michigan Beer & Wine Wholesalers Association v. Eleanor Heald et al (No. 03-1120), Jennifer M. Granholm, Governor of Michigan, et al v. Eleanor Heald et al (No. 03-1116), and Juanita Swedenburg et al v. Edward D. Kelly, Chairman of the State Liquor Authority, Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control, State of New York, et al (No. 03-1274). The court will review the extent of commercial speech in Ann M. Veneman, Secretary of Agriculture, et al v. Livestock Marketing Association et al (No. 03-1164) and Nebraska Cattlemen Inc. et al v. Livestock Marketing Association et al (No. 03-1165). The court has scheduled oral argument on Oct. 6 in Cooper Industries Inc. v. Aviall Services Inc. (No. 02-1192), a case involving recovery of costs voluntarily spent on the clean-up of properties contaminated by hazardous substances. Between now and next June, the justices also will examine, in Dennis Bates et al v. Dow Agrosciences LLC (No. 03-388), the question of whether state crop injury claims are superseded by the federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act.

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