Breyer Continues to Perpetually Dissent from Apprendi

June 17th, 2013

Just in case we forgot that he doesn’t agree with Apprendi.

Eleven years ago, in Harris v. United States, 536 U. S. 545 (2002), I wrote that “I cannot easily distinguish Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U. S. 466 (2000), from this case in terms of logic.” Id., at 569 (opinion concurring in part and concurring in judgment). I nonetheless accepted Harris’ holding because I could “[n]ot yet accept [Apprendi’s] rule.” 536 U. S., at 569. I continue to disagree with Apprendi. See 536 U. S., at 569–570; United States v. Booker, 543 U. S. 220, 326 (2005) (opinion dissenting in part); Blakely v. Washington, 542 U. S. 296, 328 (2004) (dissenting opinion); Apprendi, supra, at 555 (same). But Apprendi has now defined the relevant legal regime for an additional decade. And, in my view, the law should no longer tolerate the anomaly that the Apprendi/Harris distinction creates.

While Harris has been the law for 11 years, Apprendi has been the law for even longer; and I think the time has come to end this anomaly in Apprendi’s application. Consequently, I vote to overrule Harris. I join Parts I, III–B, III–C, and IV of the Court’s opinion and concur in its judgment.

The more interesting stare decisis duel is between Alito and Sotomayor.