Davis v. United States Sentencing Commission

Brief of Amicus Curiae National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in Support of Appellant Brian Davis.

Brief filed: 12/18/2014


Davis v. United States Sentencing Commission

District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals; Case No. 14-5109

Prior Decision

Decision below --- F.Supp.2d ----, 2014 WL 1400725, D.D.C., April 11, 2014 (NO. CV 11-1433 (JEB)).


By 1995 Congress had overwhelming evidence that the 100:1 crack/powder cocaine sentencing ratio disproportionately impacted African Americans and was the principal cause for the widening gap in the length of incarceration for African American and white offenders. Nonetheless, in 1995, Congress rejected proposed equalization and left the 100:1 ratio intact despite its knowledge of the ratio’s discriminatory impact and without suggesting any rational basis for preserving the ratio. Congress’s 1995 reaffirmation of that ratio violated equal protection. It fails under strict scrutiny and fails under rational basis review. And continuing to enforce sentences imposed under the 100:1 ratio will erode public confidence in the judicial system and may undermine the effective administration of justice. This Court has not addressed in a published opinion whether Congress’s 1995 decision to reaffirm the 100:1 ration violated equal protection. NACDL urges the Court (i) to reverse the District Court’s decision holding that Congress did not violate equal protection by rejecting the Commission’s proposed 1:1 ratio and (ii) to remand the case.

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Timothy P. O’Toole, Kathleen T. Wach and Michael Anderson, Miller & Chevalier Chartered, Washington, DC.