After lacking a quorum for over three years, the U.S. Sentencing Commission will soon have a full slate of commissioners after President Biden announced seven nominees to serve as commissioners. According the the White House’s announcement, the Commission’s primary purpose is “to reduce sentencing disparities and promote transparency and proportionality in criminal sentencing.” The Commission’s role is especially critical in light of the First Step Act’s passage, as the Commission will now need to update the Sentencing Guidelines to reflect changes in the law. The Commission will also have an opportunity to revise some of the Guidelines that have come under consistent criticism as unduly harsh, such as the Guidelines for child pornography possession.
President Biden’s picks are notable for several reasons, including the fact that several have experience as federal public defenders. As required, the slate of commissioners is bipartisan, and no more than four members may be from the same political party. The nominees are as follows:
The Honorable Carlton W. Reeves, Nominee for Commissioner and Chair – Judge Reeves, from the Southern District of Mississippi, made headlines in 2020 when he penned an order criticizing the doctrine of qualified immunity (but granting it all the same).
Laura Mate, Nominee for Commissioner and Vice Chair – Mate is the Director of the Sentencing Resource Counsel and a former assistant federal defender in Washington.
The Honorable Luis Felipe Restrepo, Nominee for Commissioner and Vice Chair – Judge Restrepo has been a judge on the Third Circuit since 2016 and was previously a district court judge and magistrate judge. He was also an assistant federal defender in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Claire McCusker Murray, Nominee for Commissioner and Vice Chair – Murray served in the Attorney General’s Office under President Trump from 2019 to 2021. She is a former partner at Kirkland & Ellis and is a former federal prosecutor.
The Honorable Claria Horn Boom, Nominee for Commissioner – Judge Boom serves as a district court judge for both the Western and Eastern District of Kentucky, having been nominated by President Trump in 2018. She is a former federal prosecutor from Kentucky.
John Gleeson, Nominee for Commissioner – Former Judge Gleeson previously served as a district court judge in the Eastern District of New York. Prior to that, he was a federal prosecutor. Gleeson’s efforts at reforming federal mandatory minimum laws and advocacy in the area of compassionate release have been recognized at the national level.
Candice C. Wong, Nominee for Commissioner – Wong is a federal prosecutor in the District of Columbia and is the current Chief of the Violence Reduction and Trafficking Offenses Section. From 2020 to 2021, she has assisted the Commission as an ex officio member.
The nominees must still be voted on by the Senate.
Click here to read the White house’s announcement, which contains a detailed description of each nominee.