All eyes are turned to the Supreme Court and they continue to be for a few more weeks as they decide multiple key cases that will reverberate for years.
The court has a small conservative majority but many justices have previously shown willingness to switch sides and hand surprising victories to one side or the other.
Brett Kavanaugh has gotten most of the attention for his decisions, but Ruth Ginsburg just stunned the country, broke a deadlock and sided with the conservatives.
The Hill reported that this Monday, The Supreme Court found that a criminal defendant can be sentenced for violating his supervised release, even if the release expires while he is incarcerated ahead of facing new charges.
The justices, divided in the 5-4 decision, ruled against Jason Mont’s argument that a district court should not be able to charge him for violating his release because the term had expired at the time of the new sentencing.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg sided with conservative Justices John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Brett Kavanaugh in the majority. Justice Neil Gorsuch joined liberal Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan in opposing the decision.
Mont had been previously convicted on felony drug and gun charges and served 84 months in prison before beginning a five-year supervised release due to end in March 2017.
However, he faced more charges in 2015 as well as 2016 and was imprisoned in state jail in June 2016. After several delays of a hearing, a district court heard and ruled that Mont had violated his supervised release and imposed another prison sentence.
Mont had opposed the new 42-month sentence, set to run after completing the sentence for his new charges, which he pleaded guilty to. He stated that he should not face the new sentence because the court had repeatedly delayed the hearing until after the end date for his supervised release term.
Thomas stated in the majority opinion that “time in pretrial detention constitutes supervised release only if the charges against the defendant are dismissed or the defendant is acquitted.”
“This ensures that the defendant is not faulted for conduct he might not have committee, while otherwise giving full effect to the lawful judgement previously imposed on the defendant.” He said.
However, Sotomayor wrote in the dissenting opinion that she does not agree with the majority’s reasoning “that a person ‘is imprisoned in connection with a conviction’ before any conviction has occurred.”