Opinion of Breyer, J.
judgment, and I join its opinion to the extent that it holds that Apprendi does not apply to mandatory minimums.
In saying this, I do not mean to suggest my approval of mandatory minimum sentences as a matter of policy. During the past two decades, as mandatory minimum sentencing statutes have proliferated in number and importance, judges, legislators, lawyers, and commentators have criticized those statutes, arguing that they negatively affect the fair administration of the criminal law, a matter of concern to judges and to legislators alike. See, e. g., Remarks of Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, Nat. Symposium on Drugs and Violence in America 9-11 (June 18, 1993); Kennedy, Hearings before a Subcommittee of the House Committee on Appropriations, 103d Cong., 2d Sess., 29 (Mar. 9, 1994) (mandatory minimums are "imprudent, unwise and often an unjust mechanism for sentencing"); Breyer, Federal Sentencing Guidelines Revisited, 14 Crim. Justice 28 (Spring 1999); Hatch, The Role of Congress in Sentencing: The United States Sentencing Commission, Mandatory Minimum Sentences, and the Search for a Certain and Effective Sentencing System, 28 Wake Forest L. Rev. 185, 192-196 (1993); Schulhofer, Re-thinking Mandatory Minimums, 28 Wake Forest L. Rev. 199 (1993); Raeder, Rethinking Sentencing and Correctional Policy for Nonviolent Drug Offenders, 14 Crim. Justice 1, 53 (Summer 1999) (noting that the American Bar Association has opposed mandatory minimum sentences since 1974).
Mandatory minimum statutes are fundamentally inconsistent with Congress' simultaneous effort to create a fair, honest, and rational sentencing system through the use of Sentencing Guidelines. Unlike Guideline sentences, statutory mandatory minimums generally deny the judge the legal power to depart downward, no matter how unusual the special circumstances that call for leniency. See Melendez v. United States, 518 U. S. 120, 132-133 (1996) (Breyer, J., concurring in part and dissenting in part); cf. Koon v. United States, 518 U. S. 81, 95-96 (1996). They rarely reflect an ef-Page: Index Previous 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 Next
Last modified: October 4, 2007