Substantive Reasonableness Review of Federal Criminal Sentences: A Proposed Standard
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After the United States Supreme Court announced in United States v. Booker that, henceforth, federal criminal sentences would be re-viewed for “reasonableness,” it instructed that appellate courts could review sentences for “substantive reasonableness.” However, its observations about “substantive reasonableness” review have not congealed into concrete parameters. As a result, a circuit conflict exists regarding “substantive reasonableness” review, some circuits holding that the re-weighing of sentencing factors is a legitimate part of substantive reasonableness review, while others holding it is not. This Article argues the re-weighing of sentencing factors should not be a part of substantive reasonableness review. It proposes that substantive reasonableness review should focus on the soundness of a sentencing court’s reasoning and should, therefore, be limited to reviewing whether a sentence is arbitrary, or based on impermissible factors.