The Retroactivity of Substantive Rules to Cases on Collateral Review and the AEDPA, with a Special Focus on Miller v. Alabama

98 Pages Posted: 26 Nov 2014 Last revised: 4 Mar 2015

Date Written: November 25, 2014

Abstract

Teague v. Lane established a general bar on the retroactive application of criminal rules in habeas proceedings. Substantive rules, however, are not subject to that bar. In this Article, we consider whether a habeas petitioner may retroactively invoke a substantive rule notwithstanding 28 U.S.C. § 2254(d)(1), a provision of the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act that precludes federal courts from granting habeas relief to state prisoners unless the state-court adjudication was contrary to “clearly established Federal law.” We answer this question through the lens of the Supreme Court’s decision in Miller v. Alabama, holding that sentencing schemes mandating life-without-parole sentences for juveniles are unconstitutional. By tracing the Court’s jurisprudence on substantive rules to its historical roots, we conclude that Miller, while not substantive in toto, contains a substantive component, and that § 2254(d)(1) does not bar habeas petitioners from relying on substantive rules announced after their convictions become final.

Keywords: AEDPA, Miller v. Alabama, retroactivity, Teague v. Lane, habeas corpus

Suggested Citation

Zarrow, Jason and Milliken, William, The Retroactivity of Substantive Rules to Cases on Collateral Review and the AEDPA, with a Special Focus on Miller v. Alabama (November 25, 2014). Indiana Law Review, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2530536 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2530536

Jason Zarrow

Independent ( email )

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