child pornography case testing power of judges and juries
USA Today Supreme Court Ruling
The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that even sex offenders deserve to have the reasons for their sentences determined by a jury, not a judge.
The justices ruled 5-4 that a federal law requiring sex offenders to return to prison based on a judge’s new findings is unconstitutional. Supreme Court precedent gives juries, not judges, the power to determine criminal conduct.
Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, one of President Donald Trump’s two nominees on the court, wrote the opinion and was joined by the court’s four liberal justices – for the fourth time this term.
“A jury must find every fact that is essential to an individual’s punishment,” Gorsuch said. In the case before the court, the accused received “a new prison term based instead only on facts found by a judge by a mere preponderance of the evidence.”