OnPolitics: SCOTUS deals blow to criminal justice reform

·2 min read
The Supreme Court is seen under threatening skies following a storm in Washington, Wednesday, May 26, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) ORG XMIT: DCSA179

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A blast from the past: Reality Winner, the former U.S. intelligence analyst who in 2018 was sentenced to five years for espionage, was released from federal prison.

Across the pond: President Joe Biden was at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Monday, the second stop on his three-stop overseas trip to Europe.

It's Mabinty, with today's news.

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After Trump subpoenas, Garland weighs in

Attorney General Merrick Garland said the Justice Department is working on "surfacing potentially problematic matters" tied to the agency's aggressive leak investigations under the Trump administration, adding that "important questions … must be resolved" about efforts to obtain phone records of lawmakers and their staff.

Meanwhile, the chief of the Justice Department's National Security Division, John Demers, is departing amid a furor over phone record disclosures, a Justice Department official said Monday. The resignation of Demers comes a day after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called for Demers to testify about the DOJ action targeting the lawmakers.

The department's independent watchdog has launched a broad investigation into whether the Trump administration and its two attorneys general improperly seized the communications records of House Democratic lawmakers, their staff and journalists as part of an aggressive leak investigation in 2018.

More on the leaks:

SCOTUS says no to retroactive reduced sentencing on low-level drug crimes

The Supreme Court ruled against a Florida man who sought to have his sentence for a low-level drug crime reduced, holding that a bipartisan push in Congress in 2018 to ease such punishments didn't address his circumstances.

The First Step Act eased tough-on-crime policies that swelled prison populations and had a disproportionate impact on African American communities. But its language was unclear on whether certain low-level offenders could seek retroactive sentence reductions, two lower courts held, setting up a situation where those convicted of more serious crimes may wind up with a more lenient punishment.

Tarahrick Terry pleaded guilty to possessing a small amount of crack cocaine in 2008 – about 3.9 grams – and was sentenced to more than 15 years in prison. He filed suit after the 2018 law passed seeking to reduce his sentence.

Read more from USA TODAY's Supreme Court reporter John Fritze on the complication, and the heart of Terry's case.

More news to know:

Don't forget to drink water today! — Mabinty

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Supreme Court rules against criminal justice reform

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