As usual, the Supremes feel quite free to meddle with states, even as they cede their authority to control the government of enumerated powers, the federal government, which is given nearly carte blanche. Does no one notice that this Supreme Court is also part of the federal government and has a certain amount of conflict of interest in its frequent rulings against states? At least a small part of Arizona’s immigration law remains, but apparently you can’t be extra tough on things that are against federal law because, well, then the federal law might get enforced. This ain’t ERISA!?! (I know, inside baseball, but let’s consider the field preemption concept as having almost no merit in the criminal context.) At least cops can turn over the illegals to the feds and show everyone what a sham, catch-and-release system we’ve set up for illegals.
And, the Supremes find it in their hearts to say juveniles can’t get life without parole. As a policy, I’m actually inclined to support this. It just seems young people deserve some glimmer of hope no matter what they’ve done. Plus, keeping guys in their 60s in jail for something they did when they were 15 seems to have no real value, deterrence-wise or otherwise, in most cases. But it’s not so clear the federal constitution should have anything to say about it. On the other hand, this is part of broader trend of asking juries to give their imprimatur on judicial sentencing, and this line of cases, starting with Apprendi, actually appears to have a stronger constitutional pedigree than, say, decisions minting rights to marry and be shielded from school prayer and such like.