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The “residual clause” of the Armed Career Criminal Act requires a mandatory minimum fifteen-year sentence for anyone who has three prior “violent felony” convictions and is found to unlawfully possess a firearm. This clause has been addressed at the Supreme Court on numerous occasions in recent years, with Justice Scalia suggesting that it is unconstitutionally vague. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Johnson v. United States in November with no mention of the question, and after two months of silence re-scheduled the case for additional argument and instructed the parties to address this question directly. Many Court-watchers have suggested that there may now be five votes on the Court to declare the residual clause unconstitutionally vague.

  • Vikrant P. Reddy, Senior Policy Analyst, Center for Effective Justice, Texas Public Policy Foundation