Crack guidelines and Equal Protection
In an unpublished Summary Order, the Second Circuit said, yet again, that the 100-to-1 powder to crack cocaine ratio employed by the Sentencing Guidelines does not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fifth Amendment because it is rationally related to the legitimate governmental interest of protecting the public against the greater dangers of crack. Citing, e.g., United States v. Stevens, 19 F.3d 93, 26 97 (2d Cir. 1994) (“[W]e join six other circuits that have similarly held that the Guidelines’ 100 to 1 ratio of powder cocaine to crack cocaine has a rational basis and does not violate equal protection principles.”); United States v. Samas, 561 F.3d 108, 110 (2d Cir. 2009); United States v. Lee, 523 F.3d 104, 106 (2d Cir. 2008) (“It is not apparent to us that the principles set forth in Kimbrough [v. United States, 552 U.S. 85 (2007)] have any application to mandatory minimum sentences imposed by statute.”)
What does this mean? Nothing new. This argument has been made and rejected for years. The real battle now is over revising the Guidelines to use a 1:1 ratio and getting rid of mandatory minimum sentences.