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United States v. Clary

United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
34 F.3d 709 (1994)


Facts

Clary (defendant) was convicted of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. Federal law imposed minimum sentences of 10 years for possession of 50 grams of crack cocaine (i.e., cocaine base), or 5,000 grams of powder cocaine. Congress based this discrepancy on the potency, addictiveness, and low price of crack. In practice, 92.6 percent of those convicted of possession of crack were black. Approximately the same percentage of those convicted of possession of powder cocaine were white. Clary appealed these sentencing guidelines, claiming that they discriminated against black individuals. The district court agreed, finding the guidelines discriminatory based in part on “unconscious racism.” The United States government appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Gibson, J.)

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