WASHINGTON — Neil Gorsuch became the Supreme Court's newest member a year ago this Tuesday. President Donald Trump's pick for the high court, its 113th justice, has now heard more than 60 cases on issues including gerrymandering, fees paid to unions and the privacy of certain cellphone records.
Words of defiance from state and Denver officials and a federal court’s ruling this week are pushing a dispute over Trump administration immigration policy closer to a confrontation before the U.S. Supreme Court.
In light of Supreme Court decisions banning life without parole for juvenile offenders, dozens of Colorado prisoners who committed crimes as minors could be eligible for release, but only one has been freed.
It’s been more than a year since the U.S. Supreme Court made retroactive its 2012 ban on such sentences.
Many states are grappling with the issue. Here’s a look at the situation in Colorado:
How many cases?
Colorado ended life-without-parole sentences for juveniles in 2006 but had 48 offenders sentenced between 1990 and 2006, when the term was an option.
The state Department of Corrections says four have been resentenced, and one has been paroled. None has been resentenced to life without parole.
“We are aware of four or five others that are potentially coming up for resentencing soon,” Mark Fairbairn, spokesman for the Colorado Department of Corrections, said in a statement.
The prisoners still have life sentences — just with the possibility of parole. They generally aren’t eligible for that until they’ve served 40 years.
State lawmakers in 2016 ordered corrections officials to create a program for offenders sentenced to life terms as juveniles, with or without parole. Those inmates could join the program after serving 20 years or 25 years if convicted of first-degree murder. Upon completion, offenders could be eligible to apply to the parole board; release is up to the governor.
Fairbairn further explains that in the cases affected by these Supreme Court rulings, the Department of Corrections contacts the inmate’s prison for a review of earned time, dating back to the original date of sentencing; the inmate is then scheduled for a parole hearing.
The Colorado Supreme Court ruled in late May that extra-long sentences for juvenile offenders don’t violate the federal decision that inmates must have a meaningful opportunity to seek release.
Colorado has nearly three dozen inmates who committed crimes as juveniles are serving virtual life sentences of 50 years or more, The Denver Post has reported. Some of these sentences mean an inmate is likely to die in prison.
Zainab Nader left Iraq for Denver as a refugee just four months ago.
She smiles big, ear-to-ear, with an infectious laugh when she talks about her short time in Colorado and reuniting with her brothers who left Iraq for Denver eight years before her.
“I’m happy when I see my brothers,” she said, pushing out the words in between giggles.
Federal environmental regulators are seeking “input and wisdom” from Colorado as they begin the process of rewriting a Barack Obama-era water protection rule known as WOTUS, which the White House says it now wants aligned with a Supreme Court opinion on water rights from the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch wasn't shy Monday about making his voice heard as he took his seat on the bench for the first time to hear arguments.
The new justice took less than 15 minutes before asking questions during an employment discrimination case.
Justice Neil Gorsuch's first week on the Supreme Court bench features an important case about the separation of church and state that has its roots on a Midwestern church playground. The outcome could make it easier to use state money to pay for private, religious schooling in many states.