SCOTUS decides case concerning Armed Career Criminal Act in 5-4 opinion

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) issued an opinion in one case on June 10, Borden v. United States, which involved the use-of-force clause in the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA). The case was argued during the November argument sitting.

Charles Borden Jr. pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm as a felon. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee, relying on the 6th Circuit Court’s decision in United States v. Verwiebe (2017), sentenced Borden to nine years and seven months of imprisonment under the ACCA. Borden objected to his sentence, arguing the district court’s application of Verwiebe to his case violated due process protections. On appeal, the 6th Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling. Borden petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for review.

In a 5-4 opinion, the court reversed the 6th Circuit’s ruling and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that a reckless offense cannot qualify as a “violent felony” if it only requires a mens rea of recklessness—a less culpable mental state than purpose or knowledge.

Justice Elena Kagan delivered the court’s majority opinion, joined by Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Neil Gorsuch. Justice Clarence Thomas filed a concurring opinion. Justice Brett Kavanaugh filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito and Amy Coney Barrett.

To date, the U.S. Supreme Court has issued 44 opinions during the 2020-2021 term. Seven cases were decided without argument.

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