Betterman v. Montana and the Underenforcement of Constitutional Rights at Sentencing
18 Pages Posted: 7 Oct 2016
Date Written: October 3, 2016
This past Term, in Betterman v. Montana, the U.S. Supreme Court took up the question whether the Sixth Amendment’s speedy trial guarantee applies to sentencing proceedings. In a unanimous opinion by Justice Ginsburg, the Court held that it does not. Perhaps in order to achieve unanimity, Betterman left open important questions, which may ultimately allow defendants, at least in some situations, to demand a speedy sentencing. But, as this short commentary explains, Betterman represents an unfortunate example of the courts’ tendency to underenforce constitutional rights at sentencing.
Keywords: Sixth Amendment, speedy trial, sentencing, Supreme Court
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