In rejecting Hogan’s conclusion that the mandatory minimum was unconstitutional as applied to the Hammonds, the 9th Circuit noted that the Supreme Court “has upheld far tougher sentences for less serious or, at the very least, comparable offenses.” The examples it cited included “a sentence of fifty years to life under California’s three-strikes law for stealing nine videotapes,” “a sentence of twenty-five years to life under California’s three-strikes law for the theft of three golf clubs,” “a forty-year sentence for possession of nine ounces of marijuana with the intent to distribute,” and “a life sentence under Texas’s recidivist statute for obtaining $120.75 by false pretenses.” If those penalties did not qualify as “grossly disproportionate,” the appeals court reasoned, five years for accidentally setting fire to federal land cannot possibly exceed the limits imposed by the Eighth Amendment.
In other words, since even worse miscarriages of justice have passed constitutional muster, this one must be OK too.
.. The blogger Scott Alexander once argued with more detail than I can quote here that “if you’re part of the Blue Tribe, then your outgroup isn’t al-Qaeda, or Muslims, or blacks, or gays, or transpeople, or Jews, or atheists—it’s the Red Tribe.”
.. We’d all do better to focus on forging red-blue alliances to address injustices of common concern rather than behaving as if it is either useful or morally righteous to denounce, demonize, and dehumanize the members of opposing ideological tribes.