United States v. Watts, 519 U.S. 148, 14 (1997) (per curiam)

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Cite as: 519 U. S. 148 (1997)

Stevens, J., dissenting

not speak to questions concerning the relevance or the weight of any item of evidence. That statute is not offended by provisions in the Guidelines that proscribe reliance on evidence of economic hardship, drug or alcohol dependence, or lack of guidance as a youth in making certain sentencing decisions. See Koon v. United States, 518 U. S. 81, 93 (1996). Conversely, that statute does not command that any particular weight—or indeed that any weight at all—be given to evidence that a defendant may have committed an offense that the prosecutor failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. In short, while the statute that introduces the Court's analysis of these cases, ante, at 151, does support its narrow holding that sentencing courts may sometimes "consider conduct of the defendants underlying other charges of which they had been acquitted," ante, at 149, it sheds no light on whether the district judges' application of the Guidelines in the manner presented in these cases was authorized by Congress, or is allowed by the Constitution.

A closer examination of the interaction among 3661, the other provisions of the Sentencing Reform Act, and the Guidelines demonstrates that the role played by 3661 is of a narrower scope than the Court's opinion suggests. The Sentencing Reform Act was enacted primarily to address Congress' concern that similar offenders convicted of similar offenses were receiving "an unjustifiably wide range of sentences." S. Rep. No. 98-225, p. 38 (1983). It therefore created the Sentencing Commission and directed it to draft Guidelines that would cabin the discretion of all judges— those who were too harsh as well as those who were too lenient. See 28 U. S. C. 991(b)(1)(B). While the abolition of parole indicates that the new rules were generally intended to increase the minimum levels of punishment, see 18 U. S. C. 3624(a) and (b), they also confined the judges' authority to impose the maximum sentences authorized by statute. The central mechanism that Congress promulgated to avoid disparate sentencing in typical cases is a require-


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