United States v. Davis

Summarized by:

  • Court: United States Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Constitutional Law
  • Date Filed: June 24, 2019
  • Case #: 18-431
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: GORSUCH, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which GINSBURG, BREYER, SOTOMAYOR, and KAGAN, JJ., joined. KAVANAUGH, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which THOMAS and ALITO, JJ., joined, and in which ROBERTS, C. J., joined as to all but Part II–C.
  • Full Text Opinion

18 U. S. C. §924(c)(3)(B)’s definition of a crime of violence as an "offense that by its nature involves a risk of force" mandates the use of a categorical approach, making the clause unconstitutionally vague.

A jury found Respondents guilty on multiple counts that included two separate violations of §924(c) based on Respondents brandishing a shotgun during robberies. Respondents appealed the convictions under §924(c)’s residual clause, arguing that §924(c)(3)(B)’s definition of a crime of violence was unconstitutionally vague under Supreme Court precedent. The Fifth Circuit agreed but sustained most of Respondents’ convictions under §924(c)(3)(A). Respondents sought a rehearing and argued that the Fifth Circuit should have vacated all their convictions under §924(c) after deeming the residual clause unconstitutionally vague, which prompted Petitioner to seek further review of §924(c)(3)(B)’s constitutionality before a full resentencing occurred. The Supreme Court affirmed that §924(c)(3)(B)’s definition of a crime of violence made the residual clause unconstitutionally vague. The Court reasoned that the legislative history and language of §924(c)(3)(B) mandated a categorical approach requiring judges to apply the residual clause to an imagined “ordinary case” of an offense, as opposed to real-world conduct. The Court then cited prior precedent deeming such a categorical approach vague because it requires a judgment based on an abstraction with respect to an unspecified level of risk. Accordingly, the Court vacated and remanded the Fifth Circuit’s decision to address Respondent’s rehearing petitions. AFFIRMED IN PART, VACATED IN PART, AND REMANDED.

Advanced Search

Back to Top