Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist criticized Congress in unusually pointed terms on Wednesday for a recent law that places federal judges under special scrutiny for sentences that fall short of those called for by the federal sentencing guidelines.
The legislation, enacted last spring as a little-noticed amendment to the popular Amber Alert child protection measure, “could appear to be an unwarranted and ill-considered effort to intimidate individual judges in the performance of their judicial duties,” the chief justice said in his annual year-end report on the federal judiciary.
“It seems that the traditional interchange between the Congress and the judiciary broke down” when the amendment passed without any formal evaluation from the judiciary, he added.
The federal setencing guidelines were upheld by the Supreme Court, if memory serves, with Breyer abstaining and Scalia being the lone dissent. Scalia argued, rightly, that the laws infringe on the judiciary’s right to set punishments deemd proper by the judge or jury.
Well, now Congress is making the judges uphold he standard of the law that the Supreme Court sad was constitutional. Now the Court and Chief Justice will have to live with the consequences of their actions. Tough crap.