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The Champion

June 2003 , Page 7 

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NACDL’s fight to save judicial discretion

By Ralph Grunewald

As approved by the House of Representatives March 27, 2003, the original Feeney Amendment would have virtually abolished judicial discretion under the Sentencing Guidelines. This version applied to all federal offenses and, among other things, would have prohibited departures based on grounds not specified in the Sentencing Guidelines and repealed many of the most important specified grounds. While the final legislation is very troubling, significant improvements were achieved through the efforts of NACDL, its members and other groups.  

As soon as this stealth rider to the Amber Alert bill came to light, NACDL immediately spread the word and prepared a letter in opposition, which was signed by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, Families Against Mandatory Minimums and others. Notwithstanding our swift efforts, the House agreed (357-58) to accept the amendment and went on to pass the bill. A procedural maneuver allowed the bill to bypass the Senate Judic

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