Supreme Court Issue Ruling on Mandatory Sentences For Low Level Drug Dealers

In a 6-3 decision on Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that not all low-level drug offenders are eligible for reduced prison sentences under the 2018 First Step Act.

The case in question involved Mark Pulsifer, a convicted drug dealer from Iowa who sought a lesser sentence by invoking the provisions of the aforementioned law.

According to court documents, Pulsifer was found guilty of distributing 50 grams of methamphetamine.

In her majority opinion, Justice Elena Kagan stated, “Congress did not extend safety-valve relief to all defendants, but only to some.” This ruling effectively limits the application of the First Step Act to a narrower subset of drug offenders.

However, the decision was not unanimous.

In his dissenting opinion, Justice Neil Gorsuch expressed concern that the court’s interpretation of the law would deny thousands of individuals in the federal justice system the opportunity for an individualized sentence. “For them, the First Step Act offers no hope,” Gorsuch wrote.

This ruling upholds the original intent of the First Step Act, which was designed to provide relief to certain non-violent drug offenders, but not to grant blanket leniency to all individuals convicted of drug-related crimes.

By maintaining a more stringent interpretation of the law, the Supreme Court has ensured that the Act’s provisions are applied judiciously and in accordance with the severity of each case.