Supreme Court to Reconsider Role of Juries in Mandatory Minimum Sentencing

The Supreme Court just granted cert in Alleyne v. United States, 11-9335, which asks the Court to reconsider Harris v. United States.  There, Justice Kennedy (writing for a plurality), plus Justice Breyer (who concurred only in the judgment), held that facts that increased the mandatory minimum sentence need not be decided by the jury.

Two members of the Harris majority (Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justice O’Connor) have left the Court, as have  two  dissenters (Justices Stevens and Souter), so it will be interesting to see where their successors come out, and whether any of the Harris veterans have reconsidered their positions.  The Court has repeatedly passed up the opportunity to reconsider Almendarez-Torres v. United States (holding that the Sixth Amendment doesn’t require the fact of a prior conviction to be the subject of a jury determination), so it’s interesting the Court has decided to reconsider Harris.

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