Courthouse Steps Decision: Pulsifer v. United States

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In Pulsifer v. United States, the Supreme Court considered an Eighth Circuit case that raised the question: "Must a defendant show he does not meet any of the criteria listed in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(f) to qualify for a sentence lower than the statutory minimum?". Key to that question was the meaning of the word "and" in the statute, as the Court was asked to consider whether text and context required "and" in this case be read to mean "or".

Oral argument was heard on October 2, 2023, and judgment was rendered in favor of the government (affirming the 8th Circuit's decision) on March 15, 2024. The decision split the Court 6-3, with Justice Kagan authoring the majority opinion. Justice Gorsuch authored a dissent, which Justices Sotomayor and Jackson joined.

In the wake of this decision, join us for a Courthouse Steps Decision Forum as we discuss its potential ramifications.


  • Vikrant P. Reddy, Senior Fellow, Stand Together Trust


As always, the Federalist Society takes no position on particular legal or public policy issues; all expressions of opinion are those of the speaker.