A Supreme Court Win

Doesn’t happen as often as it should, and there are some really bad ones coming down the pike, but yesterday the Court ruled 6-3 that its earlier ruling that mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles is unconstitutional also applies retroactively. As many as 1500 inmates around the country are serving mandatory life without parole sentences assessed while they were juveniles - all are now eligible for at least a shot at parole.

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that those sentenced as teenagers to mandatory life imprisonment for murder must have a chance to argue that they should be released from prison.

The ruling expanded the court’s 2012 decision that struck down mandatory life terms without parole for juveniles and said it must be applied retroactively to what juvenile advocates estimate are 1,200 to 1,500 cases.

More than 1,100 inmates are concentrated in three states — Pennsylvania, Louisiana and Michigan — where officials had decided the 2012 ruling was not retroactive.

They should have a chance to be resentenced or argue for parole, said Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who wrote the new 6-to-3 decision.

Frustrated non-Chief Justice Antonin “I’m Not Bitter, I’m Always This Much of an Asshole” Scalia issued one of his usual calm, dispassionate dissents.

In a dissent that described Kennedy’s ruling as “astonishing” and “sleight of hand,” Justice Antonin Scalia said the majority’s goal was abolishing life imprisonment without parole for juveniles.

* * *

“In Godfather fashion, the majority makes state legislatures an offer they can’t refuse: Avoid all the utterly impossible nonsense we have prescribed by simply ‘permitting juvenile homicide offenders to be considered for parole,’ ” Scalia wrote. “Mission accomplished.”

Criminal justice reform tidbit:

For instance, of about 500 serving life sentences without parole in Pennsylvania, she said, about 300 are from one county, Philadelphia.

Hmmmm, what could possibly make Philadelphia so different from the rest of the state of Pennsylvania? Besides utter sports futility, that is. Thinking . . . . nope, no idea. Anyone wanna help me out here?

A good ruling from a court that is increasingly bent on destroying whatever social and political gains of the last century that it can. Savor it now, because it isn’t going to last very long.

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