The legislation lists three sorts of legal historical past amongst its standards for eligibility. The justices have been requested to determine whether or not only one sort of legal historical past disqualifies an individual from a lighter sentence, or whether or not all three should be current for a disqualification.

Just like the arguments, which have been centered on grammar — mainly, what does “and” imply in a listing — Justice Kagan’s opinion adopted the tone of an English trainer. The opinion, joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, was peppered with examples of sentence construction, pulling from childhood classics.

“Take into account this maybe half-remembered line from childhood: ‘On Saturday he ate by one piece of chocolate cake, one ice cream cone, one pickle, one slice of Swiss cheese, one slice of salami, one lollipop, one piece of cherry pie, one sausage, one cupcake and one slice of watermelon,’” Justice Kagan wrote, citing the guide “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.”

The usage of the phrase “and” meant that the caterpillar ate every one of many meals, she wrote.

In dissent, Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, who was joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ketanji Brown Jackson, emphasised the aim of the First Step Act. The laws, he wrote, promised to provide “extra people the prospect to keep away from one-size-fits-all obligatory minimums and obtain as a substitute sentences that account for his or her explicit circumstances and crimes.”

The case, Pulsifer v. United States, No. 22-340, concerned Mark E. Pulsifer, who had been accused of twice promoting methamphetamine to a confidential informant in southwest Iowa.

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