I flagged in this post from June my sense that the Supreme Court has become particularly (and problematically) quiet on sentencing matters. This feeling continues with this morning’s new SCOTUS order list in which the Court granted cert on three new cases, but denied cert without comment in the Demma reasonableness review case flagged here. I suppose the coming oral arguments in Borden v. US, No. 19-5410 (another ACCA application case), and especially Jones v. Mississippi, No. 18-1259 (application of Miller), provide plenty to keep sentencing fans engaged for now. But I remain disappointed that SCOTUS has now been quiesced on a range of (non-ACCA) federal sentencing issues for quite some time.
But, perhaps unsurprisingly in light of other 2020 events, it does seem like the Justices are getting ever more engaged on Fourth Amendment issues. Specifically, one of the new cert grants comes in Lange v. California, which SCOTUSblog describes this way: “Whether the pursuit of a person whom a police officer has probable cause to believe has committed a misdemeanor categorically qualifies as an exigent circumstance sufficient to allow the officer to enter a home without a warrant.”
In addition, Justice Gorsuch, joined by Justices Sotomayor and Kagan, issued a notable five-page statement respecting the denial of certiorari in another Fourth Amendment case, Bovat v. Vermont. This statement includes a picture so that readers can better visualize the police activity which gets verbally described this way:
Suspecting Clyde Bovat of unlawfully hunting a deer at night (Vermont calls it a “deer jacking”), game wardens decided to pay him a visit to — in their words — “investigate further.” But the wardens admit that “pretty soon after arriving” they focused on a window in Mr. Bovat’s detached garage. Heading there and peering inside, the wardens spotted what they thought could be deer hair on the tailgate of a parked truck.
I am never troubled when all sort of police activity, even concerning deer hair and deer jacking, gets subject to appropriate scrutiny. But I still see so many federal (and state) sentencing activities that could merit so much more SCOTUS scrutiny.