Tilem & Campbell is currently appealing the constitutionality of the federal mandatory minimums for federal crack offenses and the 100:1 powder cocaine/crack cocaine rationale. In continuing with a thorough review of the failings of prior mandatory minimums for drug offenses, I previously touched on the Boggs Act of 1951 and the Narcotics Control Act of 1956. When Richard Nixon took office in 1969 he supported enforcement of then current drug laws to combat the county’s admitted drug problem. However, he came to realize that was not the best course of action.
(See www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=2353&st=&st1=. (Visited December 14, 2008).
Nixon backed away from mandatory minimums and pushed The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 (hereinafter the “1970 Act’) through Congress which eliminated all of the mandatory minimum drug sentences but one. (Mandatory minimums from between 10 and 20 to life remained for Engaging in a “continuing criminal enterprise”). The 1970 Act was an acknowledgment of failings of both the Boggs Act of 1951 and the Narcotics Control Act of 1956. The 1970 Act was in lock-step with President Kennedy’s aversion to the mandatory minimums, Kennedy’s Commission’s findings against the mandatory minimums and President Lyndon Johnson’s opposition to the mandatory minimums. The Act had wide bi-partisan support including that of then Congressman, and future President of the United States, George H. W. Bush who supported the repeal of the mandatory minimums found in the Narcotics Control Act of 1956.
Considering the failings of mandatory minimums in the past as well as the current findings of the United States Sentencing Commission all in opposition to mandatory minimums and the 100:1 ratio in general, any rational basis for such mandatory minimums and their disproportionate impact on minorities falters.
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