United States v. Davis

Brief of Amicus Curiae National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in Support of Respondents

Brief filed: 03/21/2019

Documents

United States v. Davis

United States Supreme Court; Case No. 18-431

Prior Decision

Decision below 903 F.3d 483 (5th Cir. Sept. 7, 2018)

Argument(s)

The government’s proposed use of constitutional avoidance would be unprecedented. This Court has never used constitutional avoidance to broaden a criminal statute. The government’s proposal would broaden the application of the Section 924(c) Residual Clause. This Court never has used constitutional avoidance to interpret identical language in related statutes to mean different things, as the government has proposed here. The government’s proposed use of constitutional avoidance would reduce the canon to an arbitrary tool with dangerous rule-of-law implications. The government’s proposed use of constitutional avoidance is irreconcilable with the due process right to fair notice. The government’s proposed use of constitutional avoidance fundamentally is at odds with the rule of lenity and the principles of fairness underlying the rule. The rule of lenity requires that ambiguous criminal statutes be construed in the defendant’s favor. Application of the rule of lenity is necessary to uphold the separation of powers and protect principles of fairness.

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Author(s)

Jonathan L. Marcus, Brendan B. Gants, and Sylvia O. Tsakos, Washington, DC; Michael Leo Pomeranz, New York, NY; Barbara E. Bergman, NACDL, Tucson, AZ

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