Last year, in Johnson v. United States, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the Armed Career Criminal Act was unconstitutional. The Armed Career Criminal Act was the federal version of the "three strikes and you're out" state statutes. The Federal Act added five years to the sentences of career criminals who had been convicted of at least four "violent felonies" or serious drug crimes. In Johnson the Supreme Court found that the term "violent felonies" and the catch all phrase at the end of the statute was so vague that it was unconstitutional. But the decision in Johnson did not apply retroactively. On March 30, 1016, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Welch v. United States. Welch was seeking to apply the holding in Johnson retroactively. Yesterday, in a 7 to 1 vote, the Supreme Court agreed with Welch and applied last year's ruling in Johnson retroactively thereby opening the door to anybody who had their sentence extended under the Armed Career Criminal Act to seek to have another sentencing hearing which would probably result in their sentence being reduced. Not only is Welch significant for the legal ruling, but it is significant because of how quickly the Supreme Court released it's opinion. The opinion was released about 3 weeks after the oral arguments and was released on a Monday. It is very unusual for the Supreme Court to release an opinion on a Monday.
The majority opinion was written by Justice Anthony Kennedy and the only dissent was by Justice Clarence Thomas.
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