No. 95-1726.

520 U.S. 751 (1997)

117 S.Ct. 1673

137 L.Ed.2d 1001


Supreme Court of United States.

Decided May 27, 1997.

Attorney(s) appearing for the Case

Deputy Solicitor General Dreeben argued the cause for the United States. With him on the briefs were Acting Solicitor General Dellinger, Acting Assistant Attorney General Keeney, Malcolm L. Stewart, and J. Douglas Wilson.

David N. Yellen argued the cause for respondents. With him on the brief were John A. Ciraldo, by appointment of the Court, 518 U.S. 1037, Peter Goldberger, by appointment of the Court, 518 U.S. 1037, and Michael C. Bourbeau, by appointment of the Court, 518 U.S. 1037.*

Thomas, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Rehnquist, C. J., and O'Connor, Scalia, Kennedy, and Souter, JJ., joined. Breyer, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Stevens and Ginsburg, JJ., joined, p. 762.

Justice Thomas, delivered the opinion of the Court.

In 28 U. S. C. § 994(h), Congress directed the United States Sentencing Commission (Commission) to "assure" that the Sentencing Guidelines specify a prison sentence "at or near the maximum term authorized for categories of" adult offenders who commit their third felony drug offense or violent crime. We are asked to decide whether, by "maximum term authorized," Congress meant (1) the maximum term available for...

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