Amicus Brief: United States v. Jeffrey Havis


The New Civil Liberties Alliance (NCLA) is a nonprofit civil-rights organization and public-interest law firm devoted to defending constitutional freedoms. The “civil liberties” of the organization’s name include rights at least as old as the U.S. Constitution itself, such as jury trial, due process of law, the right to be tried in front of an impartial and independent judge, and the right to live under laws made by the nation’s elected lawmakers through constitutionally prescribed channels. Yet these selfsame rights are also very contemporary– and in dire need of renewed vindication– precisely because Congress, federal administrative agencies, and sometimes even the courts have trampled them for so long.

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CASE: United States v. Jeffrey Havis

COURT: 6th Cir.

DOCUMENT: No. 17-5772


FILED: November 13, 2018


November 13, 2018 | Brief of the New Civil Liberties Alliance as Amicus Curiae in Support of Appellant's Petition for Rehearing En Banc
Click here to read the full document.


November 26, 2018 | Deference to Commentary to the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Must Stop

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:

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