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Mistretta v. United States

Significance, The Sentencing Reform Act Comes Under Challenge, "an Unusual Hybrid", Dissent: "a Sort Of Junior-varsity Congress"


John Mistretta


United States

Petitioner's Claim

That the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 violated the constitutional separation-of-powers doctrine by establishing a Sentencing Commission of judges with "excessive legislative powers."

Chief Lawyer for Petitioner

Alan B. Morrison

Chief Lawyer for Respondent

Charles Fried, U.S. Solicitor General

Justices for the Court

Harry A. Blackmun (writing for the Court), William J. Brennan, Jr., Anthony M. Kennedy, Thurgood Marshall, Sandra Day O'Connor, William H. Rehnquist, John Paul Stevens, Byron R. White

Justices Dissenting

Antonin Scalia


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

18 January 1989


The Constitution does not prevent Congress from appointing a body of experts within the judicial branch to develop guidelines for matters unique to their area of knowledge, making the Sentencing Reform Act valid.


Bacon, Donald C., et al., eds. The Encyclopedia of the United States Congress New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1989 to 1994