applied. See Stinson, ___ U.S. at ___, 113 S.Ct. at 1919
(noting that commentary that is inconsistent with a federal
statute is not given controlling weight). Specifically, the
Government maintains that 28 U.S.C. § 994(h) directs the
Commission to specify sentences "at or near the maximum term
authorized" for defendants convicted of violating 18 U.S.C. § 841
after having previously been convicted of two or more
crimes of violence or felony drug crimes.
A. Plain Meaning
Whether Amendment 506 should be given binding effect is an
issue of first impression. Thus, the Court is guided by
principles of statutory construction and the first and
"large-bore howitzer" of statutory construction is that a court
must apply the plain meaning of a statute as written.
Matter of Udell, 18 F.3d 403, 410 n. 1 (7th Cir. 1994) (Flaum,
J., concurring). See Connecticut Nat. Bank v. Germain,
503 U.S. 249, 254, 112 S.Ct. 1146, 1149, 117 L.Ed.2d 391 (1992) ("We
have stated time and again that courts must presume that a
legislature says in a statute what it means and means in a
statute what it says there. When the words of a statute are
unambiguous, then this first canon is also the last: `judicial
inquiry is complete.'") (citations omitted).
The meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 994(h) is clear on its face. See
United States v. Saunders, 973 F.2d 1354, 1365 (7th Cir. 1992).
It specifically directs the Commission that it "shall assure
that the guidelines specify a sentence to a term of
imprisonment at or near the maximum term authorized. . . ."
(emphasis added). Therefore, because 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(C)
unambiguously states that a person convicted of an applicable
drug offense after having previously been convicted of one or
more applicable drug offenses "shall be sentenced to a term of
imprisonment of not more than 30 years," Amendment 506 is
clearly inconsistent with 28 U.S.C. § 994(h). Because Amendment
506 is clearly inconsistent with 28 U.S.C. § 994(h), it is not
controlling and will not be applied. See Stinson, ___ U.S. at
___, 113 S.Ct. at 1919.
B. Congressional Intent
The Sentencing Commission attempts to circumvent the plain
meaning rule by noting that in 1984 when 28 U.S.C. § 994(h) was
enacted, the enhanced maximum sentences provided in 21 U.S.C. § 841
did not exist. U.S.S.G.Amend. 506, cmt. (backg'd). In
response, the Government contends that prior to 1984, 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)
— as well as other statutes — provided for enhanced
maximum penalties based on a defendant's prior convictions. See
Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act, 84 Stat.
1236, 1260-70 (1970).
Moreover, the Government argues that Amendment 506 "thwarts"
the clear intention of Congress that the most dangerous,
recidivist criminals receive a sentence close to the statutory
maximum. See United States v. Sanchez-Lopez, 879 F.2d 541, 559
(9th Cir. 1989). The Court agrees and notes that there is no
compelling reason that the term "statutory maximum" should not
include all maximum penalty provisions included in the statute.
See 21 U.S.C. § 841.
Amendment 506 is inconsistent with the plain meaning of both
28 U.S.C. § 994(h) and 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(C). Thus, it is
not binding on this Court and there is no basis for a reduction
in sentence pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2).
Ergo, the Defendant's motion is DENIED.