Washington, D.C. — The New Civil Liberties Alliance, a nonprofit civil-rights organization and public-interest law firm, filed an amicus brief supporting a petition for rehearing en banc in the case of United States v. Jeffery Havis before the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati. NCLA is particularly disturbed by the spreading practice of extending judicial “deference” to commentary to the United States Sentencing Guidelines, Stinson v. United States, a 1993 Supreme Court case, held Sentencing Commission commentary that interprets guidelines may be cited as binding authority when courts issue sentences for criminal defendants.

NCLA Executive Director and General Counsel, Mark Chenoweth released the following statement:

“Rarely does a court encounter a more compelling case for en banc review than U.S. v. Havis. Stinson deference is nothing more than a command that courts abandon their duty of independent judgment and assign weight to a non-judicial entity’s interpretation of the law. Although NCLA acknowledges that the Supreme Court has instructed courts to defer to this commentary when interpreting the text of the federal Sentencing Guidelines, this deference regime raises grave constitutional concerns that the Supreme Court has never considered nor discussed. Rehearing en banc is warranted to enable the Sixth Circuit as a whole to consider these oft-overlooked or disregarded constitutional concerns.”

NCLA requests that the petition for rehearing en banc should be granted.

About the New Civil Liberties Alliance
NCLA is a nonprofit civil rights organization founded by prominent legal scholar Philip Hamburger to protect constitutional freedoms from violations by the administrative state. NCLA’s pro bono public-interest litigation and other advocacy strive to tame the unchecked power of state and federal agencies and to foster a new civil liberties movement that will help restore Americans’ fundamental rights. For more information visit us online: NCLAlegal.org

Media Inquiries: Please contact Judy Pino, 202-869-5218 or email Judy.Pino@NCLA.legal