Kimbrough (defendant) pled guilty to four federal offenses related to the possession and distribution of cocaine and crack cocaine. Based on the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, Kimbrough’s minimum sentence would have been 19 years. The district court decided to deviate from the guidelines and impose the statutory minimum sentence of 15 years. In its discussion of the factors supporting the sentencing decision, the court noted the disparity in the sentencing guidelines for the possession of crack cocaine as opposed to powder cocaine. The guidelines recommended the same sentence for a person convicted of distributing a particular quantity of crack cocaine as a person distributing 100 times more powder cocaine. The United States (plaintiff) appealed the sentencing decision and the court of appeals vacated the sentence. Kimbrough petitioned the United States Supreme Court for review.