The Supreme Court of the United States decided one set of consolidated cases this morning, in a single decision:

Abbott v. United States and Gould v. United States, Nos. 09-479 and 09-7073: A federal statute makes it a discrete offense to use, carry, or possess a deadly weapon in connection with “any crime of violence or drug trafficking crime,” and sets a minimum prison term for that discrete offense, "except to the extent that a greater minimum sentence is otherwise provided . . . ." Petitioners, who were sentenced to greater sentences for their underlying crimes than the minimum for the discrete possession offense, asserted that the "except" clause exempted them from additional, consecutive sentences for the discrete offense. The Court today ruled otherwise, holding "that a defendant is subject to a mandatory, consecutive sentence for a . . . conviction [on the discrete offense], and is not spared from that sentence by virtue of receiving a higher mandatory minimum on a different count of conviction."

For the Court's opinion, click here.

The Court today also granted review in two cases:

Tolentino v. New York, No. 09-11556: Are state Department of Motor Vehicles records subject to suppression under the exclusionary rule if obtained by the police through the exploitation of a Fourth Amendment violation, namely an unlawful traffic stop.

Fowler v. United States, No. 10-5443: A federal statute makes it a crime to “kill[] . . . another person, with intent to . . . prevent the communication by any person to a law enforcement officer or judge of the United States of information relating to the commission or possible commission of a Federal offense . . . .” For a conviction under that statute, must the government prove that a federal investigation was underway or imminent, or only that the defendant intended to prevent the murder victim from potentially communicating with federal law enforcement officials generally about a possible federal offense.