throbber
(Slip Opinion)
`
`
`
` OCTOBER TERM, 2015
`
`
`Syllabus
`
`1
`
` NOTE: Where it is feasible, a syllabus (headnote) will be released, as is
`
`
`
` being done in connection with this case, at the time the opinion is issued.
`
`
`
` The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been
`
` prepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader.
`
` See United States v. Detroit Timber & Lumber Co., 200 U. S. 321, 337.
`
`
`SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
`
`
`
` Syllabus
`
`MONTGOMERY v. LOUISIANA
`
`CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF LOUISIANA
` No. 14–280. Argued October 13, 2015—Decided January 25, 2016
`
`
` Petitioner Montgomery was 17 years old in 1963, when he killed a dep-
`uty sheriff in Louisiana. The jury returned a verdict of “guilty with-
`out capital punishment,” which carried an automatic sentence of life
`
`without parole. Nearly 50 years after Montgomery was taken into
`
` custody, this Court decided that mandatory life without parole for ju-
`venile homicide offenders violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibi-
`tion on “ ‘cruel and unusual punishments.’ ” Miller v. Alabama, 567
`U. S. ___, ___. Montgomery sought state collateral relief, arguing
`that Miller rendered his mandatory life-without-parole sentence ille-
`gal. The trial court denied his motion, and his application for a su-
`pervisory writ was denied by the Louisiana Supreme Court, which
`
`had previously held that Miller does not have retroactive effect in
`
`cases on state collateral review.
`Held:
`
`1. This Court has jurisdiction to decide whether the Louisiana Su-
`
`
`preme Court correctly refused to give retroactive effect to Miller.
`
`Pp. 5–14.
`
`(a) Teague v. Lane, 489 U. S. 288, a federal habeas case, set forth
`
`
`a framework for the retroactive application of a new constitutional
`
`rule to convictions that were final when the new rule was announced.
`While the Court held that new constitutional rules of criminal proce-
`dure are generally not retroactive, it recognized that courts must give
`
`retroactive effect to new watershed procedural rules and to substan-
`tive rules of constitutional law. Substantive constitutional rules in-
`clude “rules forbidding criminal punishment of certain primary con-
`duct” and “rules prohibiting a certain category of punishment for a
`class of defendants because of their status or offense,” Penry v.
`Lynaugh, 492 U. S. 302, 330. Court-appointed amicus contends that
`because Teague was an interpretation of the federal habeas statute,
`
`
`
`
`
`

`
`
`
`MONTGOMERY v. LOUISIANA
`
`
`Syllabus
`
`not a constitutional command, its retroactivity holding has no appli-
`
` However, neither
`cation in state collateral review proceedings.
`Teague nor Danforth v. Minnesota, 552 U. S. 264—which concerned
`
`only Teague’s general retroactivity bar for new constitutional rules of
`criminal procedure—had occasion to address whether States are re-
`quired as a constitutional matter to give retroactive effect to new
`substantive rules. Pp. 5–8.
`
`
`
`(b) When a new substantive rule of constitutional law controls
`the outcome of a case, the Constitution requires state collateral re-
`
`
`view courts to give retroactive effect to that rule. This conclusion is
`established by precedents addressing the nature of substantive rules,
`their differences from procedural rules, and their history of retroac-
`tive application. As Teague, supra, at 292, 312, and Penry, supra, at
`
`
`330, indicate, substantive rules set forth categorical constitutional
`guarantees that place certain criminal laws and punishments alto-
`gether beyond the State’s power to impose. It follows that when a
`State enforces a proscription or penalty barred by the Constitution,
`
`
`the resulting conviction or sentence is, by definition, unlawful. In
`contrast, where procedural error has infected a trial, a conviction or
`sentence may still be accurate and the defendant’s continued con-
`finement may still be lawful, see Schriro v. Summerlin, 542 U. S.
`348, 352–353; for this reason, a trial conducted under a procedure
`
`found unconstitutional in a later case does not automatically invali-
`date a defendant’s conviction or sentence. The same possibility of a
`valid result does not exist where a substantive rule has eliminated a
`State’s power to proscribe the defendant’s conduct or impose a given
`
`punishment. See United States v. United States Coin & Currency,
`401 U. S. 715, 724. By holding that new substantive rules are, in-
`deed, retroactive, Teague continued a long tradition of recognizing
`that substantive rules must have retroactive effect regardless of
`when the defendant’s conviction became final; for a conviction under
`
`an unconstitutional law “is not merely erroneous, but is illegal and
`void, and cannot be a legal cause of imprisonment,” Ex parte Siebold,
`100 U. S. 371, 376–377. The same logic governs a challenge to a pun-
`ishment that the Constitution deprives States of authority to impose,
`
`Penry, supra, at 330. It follows that a court has no authority to leave
`in place a conviction or sentence that violates a substantive rule, re-
`gardless of whether the conviction or sentence became final before
`
`
`the rule was announced. This Court’s precedents may not directly
`
`
`control the question here, but they bear on the necessary analysis, for
`
`a State that may not constitutionally insist that a prisoner remain in
`
`jail on federal habeas review may not constitutionally insist on the
`
`same result in its own postconviction proceedings. Pp. 8–14.
`2. Miller’s prohibition on mandatory life without parole for juvenile
`
`
`
`
`
`2
`
`
`
`
`

`
`
`
` Cite as: 577 U. S. ____ (2016)
`
`
`Syllabus
`offenders announced a new substantive rule that, under the Consti-
`tution, is retroactive in cases on state collateral review. The “founda-
`tion stone” for Miller’s analysis was the line of precedent holding cer-
`
`tain punishments disproportionate when applied to juveniles, 567
` U. S., at ___, n. 4. Relying on Roper v. Simmons, 543 U. S. 551, and
`
`
`Graham v. Florida, 560 U. S. 48, Miller recognized that children dif-
`fer from adults in their “diminished culpability and greater prospects
`for reform,” 567 U. S., at ___, and that these distinctions “diminish
`the penological justifications” for imposing life without parole on ju-
`venile offenders, id., at ___. Because Miller determined that sentenc-
`ing a child to life without parole is excessive for all but “ ‘the rare ju-
`venile offender whose crime reflects irreparable corruption,’ ” id., at
`___, it rendered life without parole an unconstitutional penalty for “a
`class of defendants because of their status”—i.e., juvenile offenders
`whose crimes reflect the transient immaturity of youth, Penry, 492
`U. S., at 330. Miller therefore announced a substantive rule of con-
`stitutional law, which, like other substantive rules, is retroactive be-
`
`
`cause it “ ‘necessarily carr[ies] a significant risk that a defendant’ ”—
`here, the vast majority of juvenile offenders—“ ‘faces a punishment
`
`that the law cannot impose upon him.’ ” Schriro, supra, at 352.
`
`A State may remedy a Miller violation by extending parole eligibil-
`ity to juvenile offenders. This would neither impose an onerous bur-
`den on the States nor disturb the finality of state convictions. And it
`
`would afford someone like Montgomery, who submits that he has
`evolved from a troubled, misguided youth to a model member of the
`prison community, the opportunity to demonstrate the truth of Mil-
`
`ler’s central intuition—that children who commit even heinous
`crimes are capable of change. Pp. 14–21.
`2013–1163 (La. 6/20/14), 141 So. 3d 264, reversed and remanded.
`KENNEDY, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS,
`
`
`
`C. J., and GINSBURG, BREYER, SOTOMAYOR, and KAGAN, JJ., joined.
`
`
`
`
`
`
`SCALIA, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which THOMAS and ALITO, JJ.,
`
`
`
`
`
`joined. THOMAS, J., filed a dissenting opinion.
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`3
`
`
`
`
`
`

`
`
`
`Cite as: 577 U. S. ____ (2016)
`
`
`Opinion of the Court
`
`1
`
`
` NOTICE: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in the
`
`
`
` preliminary print of the United States Reports. Readers are requested to
`
` notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Court of the United States, Wash­
`
` ington, D. C. 20543, of any typographical or other formal errors, in order
`
`
` that corrections may be made before the preliminary print goes to press.
`
`
`
`
`SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
`
`_________________
`
` No. 14–280
`_________________
`HENRY MONTGOMERY, PETITIONER v. LOUISIANA
`ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF
`
`
`
` LOUISIANA
`
`
`
`
`[January 25, 2016]
`
` JUSTICE KENNEDY delivered the opinion of the Court.
`This is another case in a series of decisions involving the
`
`
`sentencing of offenders who were juveniles when their
`crimes were committed. In Miller v. Alabama, 567 U. S.
`
`___ (2012), the Court held that a juvenile convicted of a
`homicide offense could not be sentenced to life in prison
`without parole absent consideration of the juvenile’s spe­
`cial circumstances in light of the principles and purposes
`of juvenile sentencing. In the wake of Miller, the question
`has arisen whether its holding is retroactive to juvenile
`offenders whose convictions and sentences were final
`when Miller was decided. Courts have reached different
`conclusions on this point. Compare, e.g., Martin v. Sym-
`mes, 782 F. 3d 939, 943 (CA8 2015); Johnson v. Ponton,
`780 F. 3d 219, 224–226 (CA4 2015); Chambers v. State,
`831 N. W. 2d 311, 331 (Minn. 2013); and State v. Tate,
`2012–2763, p. 17 (La. 11/5/13), 130 So. 3d 829, 841, with
`Diatchenko v. District Attorney for Suffolk Dist., 466 Mass.
`655, 661–667, 1 N. E. 3d 270, 278–282 (2013); Aiken v.
`Byars, 410 S. C. 534, 548, 765 S. E. 2d 572, 578 (2014);
`State v. Mares, 2014 WY 126, ¶¶47–63, 335 P. 3d 487,
`504–508; and People v. Davis, 2014 IL 115595, ¶41, 6
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`

`
`2
`
`
`MONTGOMERY v. LOUISIANA
`
`Opinion of the Court
`N. E. 3d 709, 722. Certiorari was granted in this case to
`
`resolve the question.
`
`I
`
`Petitioner is Henry Montgomery. In 1963, Montgomery
`killed Charles Hurt, a deputy sheriff in East Baton Rouge,
`
`Louisiana. Montgomery was 17 years old at the time of
`the crime. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to
`death, but the Louisiana Supreme Court reversed his
`conviction after finding that public prejudice had pre­
`vented a fair trial. State v. Montgomery, 181 So. 2d 756,
`762 (La. 1966).
`
`
`Montgomery was retried. The jury returned a verdict of
`“guilty without capital punishment.” State v. Montgomery,
`242 So. 2d 818 (La. 1970). Under Louisiana law, this
`
`verdict required the trial court to impose a sentence of life
`without parole. The sentence was automatic upon the
`jury’s verdict, so Montgomery had no opportunity to pre­
`
`sent mitigation evidence to justify a less severe sentence.
`That evidence might have included Montgomery’s young
`
`age at the time of the crime; expert testimony regarding
`
`
`his limited capacity for foresight, self-discipline, and
`judgment; and his potential for rehabilitation. Montgom­
`ery, now 69 years old, has spent almost his entire life in
`prison.
`
`
`Almost 50 years after Montgomery was first taken into
`custody, this Court decided Miller v. Alabama, 567 U. S.
`
`
`___. Miller held that mandatory life without parole for
`juvenile homicide offenders violates the Eighth Amend­
`ment’s prohibition on “‘cruel and unusual punishments.’”
`Id., at ___ (slip op., at 2). “By making youth (and all that
`accompanies it) irrelevant to imposition of that harshest
`prison sentence,” mandatory life without parole “poses too
`great a risk of disproportionate punishment.” Id., at ___
`
`(slip op., at 17). Miller required that sentencing courts
`consider a child’s “diminished culpability and heightened
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`

`
`3
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
` Cite as: 577 U. S. ____ (2016)
`
`Opinion of the Court
`capacity for change” before condemning him or her to die
`
`
` in prison. Ibid. Although Miller did not foreclose a sen­
`tencer’s ability to impose life without parole on a juvenile,
`the Court explained that a lifetime in prison is a dispro­
`portionate sentence for all but the rarest of children, those
`
`
`whose crimes reflect “‘irreparable corruption.’” Ibid.
`(quoting Roper v. Simmons, 543 U. S. 551, 573 (2005)).
`
`After this Court issued its decision in Miller, Montgom­
`ery sought collateral review of his mandatory life-without­
`parole sentence.
`In Louisiana there are two principal
`mechanisms for collateral challenge to the lawfulness of
`imprisonment. Each begins with a filing in the trial court
`
`where the prisoner was convicted and sentenced. La. Code
`
`Crim. Proc. Ann., Arts. 882, 926 (West 2008). The first
`procedure permits a prisoner to file an application for
`postconviction relief on one or more of seven grounds set
`forth in the statute. Art. 930.3. The Louisiana Supreme
`
`Court has held that none of those grounds provides a basis
`for collateral review of sentencing errors. See State ex rel.
`Melinie v. State, 93–1380 (La. 1/12/96), 665 So. 2d 1172
`(per curiam). Sentencing errors must instead be raised
`through Louisiana’s second collateral review procedure.
`
`This second mechanism allows a prisoner to bring a
`collateral attack on his or her sentence by filing a motion
`to correct an illegal sentence. See Art. 882. Montgomery
`invoked this procedure in the East Baton Rouge Parish
`
`District Court.
`
`The state statute provides that “[a]n illegal sentence
`may be corrected at any time by the court that imposed
`the sentence.” Ibid. An illegal sentence “is primarily
`restricted to those instances in which the term of the
`
`prisoner’s sentence is not authorized by the statute or
`statutes which govern the penalty” for the crime of convic­
`tion. State v. Mead, 2014–1051, p. 3 (La. App. 4 Cir.
`4/22/15), 165 So. 3d 1044, 1047; see also State v. Alexan-
`der, 2014–0401 (La. 11/7/14), 152 So. 3d 137 (per curiam).
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`

`
`4
`
`
`MONTGOMERY v. LOUISIANA
`
`Opinion of the Court
`In the ordinary course Louisiana courts will not consider a
`
`challenge to a disproportionate sentence on collateral
`review; rather, as a general matter, it appears that pris­
`oners must raise Eighth Amendment sentencing chal-
`lenges on direct review. See State v. Gibbs, 620 So. 2d 296,
`
`
`
`296–297 (La. App. 1993); Mead, 165 So. 3d, at 1047.
` Louisiana’s collateral review courts will, however, con­
`
`sider a motion to correct an illegal sentence based on a
`decision of this Court holding that the Eighth Amendment
`to the Federal Constitution prohibits a punishment for a
`type of crime or a class of offenders. When, for example,
`this Court held in Graham v. Florida, 560 U. S. 48 (2010),
`that the Eighth Amendment bars life-without-parole
`sentences for juvenile nonhomicide offenders, Louisiana
`courts heard Graham claims brought by prisoners whose
`
`sentences had long been final. See, e.g., State v. Shaffer,
`
`2011–1756, pp. 1–4 (La. 11/23/11), 77 So. 3d 939, 940–942
`
`(per curiam) (considering motion to correct an illegal
`sentence on the ground that Graham rendered illegal a
`life-without-parole sentence for a juvenile nonhomicide
`offender). Montgomery’s motion argued that Miller ren­
`dered his mandatory life-without-parole sentence illegal.
`
`
`The trial court denied Montgomery’s motion on the
`
`ground that Miller is not retroactive on collateral review.
`
`
`Montgomery then filed an application for a supervisory
`writ. The Louisiana Supreme Court denied the applica­
`tion. 2013–1163 (6/20/14), 141 So. 3d 264. The court
`
`
` relied on its earlier decision in State v. Tate, 2012–2763,
`130 So. 3d 829, which held that Miller does not have ret­
`roactive effect in cases on state collateral review. Chief
`Justice Johnson and Justice Hughes dissented in Tate,
`and Chief Justice Johnson again noted her dissent in
`
`Montgomery’s case.
`This Court granted Montgomery’s petition for certiorari.
`
`
`The petition presented the question “whether Miller
`adopts a new substantive rule that applies retroactively on
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`

`
`5
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
` Cite as: 577 U. S. ____ (2016)
`
`Opinion of the Court
`collateral review to people condemned as juveniles to die
`in prison.” Pet. for Cert. i. In addition, the Court directed
`the parties to address the following question: “Do we have
`jurisdiction to decide whether the Supreme Court of Loui­
`siana correctly refused to give retroactive effect in this
`case to our decision in Miller?” 575 U. S. ___ (2015).
`
`II
`
`The parties agree that the Court has jurisdiction to
`decide this case. To ensure this conclusion is correct, the
`Court appointed Richard D. Bernstein as amicus curiae to
`brief and argue the position that the Court lacks jurisdic­
`
`tion. He has ably discharged his assigned responsibilities.
`
`Amicus argues that a State is under no obligation to
`give a new rule of constitutional law retroactive effect in
`its own collateral review proceedings. As those proceed­
`ings are created by state law and under the State’s plenary
`control, amicus contends, it is for state courts to define
`applicable principles of retroactivity. Under this view, the
`Louisiana Supreme Court’s decision does not implicate a
`federal right; it only determines the scope of relief avail-
`able in a particular type of state proceeding—a question of
`
`state law beyond this Court’s power to review.
`
`If, however, the Constitution establishes a rule and
`requires that the rule have retroactive application, then a
`state court’s refusal to give the rule retroactive effect is
`reviewable by this Court. Cf. Griffith v. Kentucky, 479
`U. S. 314, 328 (1987) (holding that on direct review, a new
`constitutional rule must be applied retroactively “to all
`cases, state or federal”). States may not disregard a con­
`trolling, constitutional command in their own courts. See
`Martin v. Hunter’s Lessee, 1 Wheat. 304, 340–341, 344
`(1816); see also Yates v. Aiken, 484 U. S. 211, 218 (1988)
`(when a State has not “placed any limit on the issues that
`it will entertain in collateral proceedings . . . it has a duty
`to grant the relief that federal law requires”). Amicus’
`
`
`
`
`
`

`
`6
`
`
`MONTGOMERY v. LOUISIANA
`
`Opinion of the Court
` argument therefore hinges on the premise that this
`
`Court’s retroactivity precedents are not a constitutional
`mandate.
`Justice O’Connor’s plurality opinion in Teague v. Lane,
`
`489 U. S. 288 (1989), set forth a framework for retroactiv­
`
`ity in cases on federal collateral review. Under Teague, a
`new constitutional rule of criminal procedure does not
`apply, as a general matter, to convictions that were final
`when the new rule was announced. Teague recognized,
`
`however, two categories of rules that are not subject to its
`general retroactivity bar. First, courts must give retroac­
`tive effect to new substantive rules of constitutional law.
`
`Substantive rules include “rules forbidding criminal pun­
`ishment of certain primary conduct,” as well as “rules
`
`prohibiting a certain category of punishment for a class of
`defendants because of their status or offense.” Penry v.
`Lynaugh, 492 U. S. 302, 330 (1989); see also Teague, su-
`pra, at 307. Although Teague describes new substantive
`
`rules as an exception to the bar on retroactive application
`of procedural rules, this Court has recognized that sub­
`
`stantive rules “are more accurately characterized as . . .
`
`not subject to the bar.” Schriro v. Summerlin, 542 U. S.
`
`
`
`348, 352, n. 4 (2004). Second, courts must give retroactive
`effect to new “‘“watershed rules of criminal procedure”
`implicating the fundamental fairness and accuracy of the
`criminal proceeding.’” Id., at 352; see also Teague, 489
`U. S., at 312–313.
`
`It is undisputed, then, that Teague requires the retroac­
`tive application of new substantive and watershed proce­
`dural rules in federal habeas proceedings. Amicus, how­
`ever, contends that Teague was an interpretation of the
`federal habeas statute, not a constitutional command; and
`so, the argument proceeds, Teague’s retroactivity holding
`simply has no application in a State’s own collateral re­
`view proceedings.
`
`To support this claim, amicus points to language in
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`

`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`7
`
`
`
`
`
` Cite as: 577 U. S. ____ (2016)
`
`Opinion of the Court
`Teague that characterized the Court’s task as “‘defin[ing]
`
`
`the scope of the writ.’” Id., at 308 (quoting Kuhlmann v.
`Wilson, 477 U. S. 436, 447 (1986) (plurality opinion)); see
`
`
`also 489 U. S., at 317 (White, J., concurring in part and
`
`concurring in judgment) (“If we are wrong in construing
`
`the reach of the habeas corpus statutes, Congress can of
`course correct us . . . ”); id., at 332 (Brennan, J., dissent­
`
`ing) (“No new facts or arguments have come to light sug­
`gesting that our [past] reading of the federal habeas stat­
`
`ute . . . was plainly mistaken”).
`
` In addition, amicus directs us to Danforth v. Minnesota,
`552 U. S. 264 (2008), in which a majority of the Court held
`that Teague does not preclude state courts from giving
`retroactive effect to a broader set of new constitutional
`
`rules than Teague itself required. 552 U. S., at 266. The
`
`Danforth majority concluded that Teague’s general rule of
`
`nonretroactivity for new constitutional rules of criminal
`procedure “was an exercise of this Court’s power to inter­
`pret the federal habeas statute.” 552 U. S., at 278. Since
`
`Teague’s retroactivity bar “limit[s] only the scope of federal
`habeas relief,” the Danforth majority reasoned, States are
`free to make new procedural rules retroactive on state
`collateral review. 552 U. S., at 281–282.
`
`
`Amicus, however, reads too much into these statements.
`Neither Teague nor Danforth had reason to address
`whether States are required as a constitutional matter to
`give retroactive effect to new substantive or watershed
`
`procedural rules. Teague originated in a federal, not state,
`habeas proceeding; so it had no particular reason to dis­
`cuss whether any part of its holding was required by the
`
`Constitution in addition to the federal habeas statute.
`
`And Danforth held only that Teague’s general rule of
`nonretroactivity was an interpretation of the federal ha­
`beas statute and does not prevent States from providing
`
`greater relief in their own collateral review courts. The
`
`Danforth majority limited its analysis to Teague’s general
`
`

`
`8
`
`
`MONTGOMERY v. LOUISIANA
`
`Opinion of the Court
`retroactivity bar, leaving open the question whether
`Teague’s two exceptions are binding on the States as a
`matter of constitutional law. 552 U. S., at 278; see also
`id., at 277 (“[T]he case before us now does not involve
`
`either of the ‘Teague exceptions’”).
`
`
`In this case, the Court must address part of the question
`
`left open in Danforth. The Court now holds that when a
`new substantive rule of constitutional law controls the
`outcome of a case, the Constitution requires state collat­
`
`eral review courts to give retroactive effect to that rule.
`Teague’s conclusion establishing the retroactivity of new
`substantive rules is best understood as resting upon con­
`
`stitutional premises. That constitutional command is, like
`all federal law, binding on state courts. This holding is
`limited to Teague’s first exception for substantive rules;
`the constitutional status of Teague’s exception for water­
`shed rules of procedure need not be addressed here.
`
`This Court’s precedents addressing the nature of sub­
`stantive rules, their differences from procedural rules, and
`their history of retroactive application establish that the
`Constitution requires substantive rules to have retroactive
`effect regardless of when a conviction became final.
`
`The category of substantive rules discussed in Teague
`
`originated in Justice Harlan’s approach to retroactivity.
`Teague adopted that reasoning. See 489 U. S., at 292, 312
`
`(discussing Mackey v. United States, 401 U. S. 667, 692
`(1971) (opinion concurring in judgments in part and dis­
`senting in part); and Desist v. United States, 394 U. S. 244,
`261, n. 2 (1969) (Harlan, J., dissenting)). Justice Harlan
`defined substantive constitutional rules as “those that
`place, as a matter of constitutional interpretation, certain
`kinds of primary, private individual conduct beyond the
`
`
`power of the criminal law-making authority to proscribe.”
`
`Mackey, supra, at 692. In Penry v. Lynaugh, decided four
`months after Teague, the Court recognized that “the first
`exception set forth in Teague should be understood to
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
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`

`
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` Cite as: 577 U. S. ____ (2016)
`
`Opinion of the Court
`cover not only rules forbidding criminal punishment of
`certain primary conduct but also rules prohibiting a cer­
`tain category of punishment for a class of defendants
`because of their status or offense.” 492 U. S., at 330.
`
`Penry explained that Justice Harlan’s first exception
`spoke “in terms of substantive categorical guarantees
`accorded by the Constitution, regardless of the procedures
`followed.” Id., at 329. Whether a new rule bars States
`from proscribing certain conduct or from inflicting a cer­
`tain punishment, “[i]n both cases, the Constitution itself
`deprives the State of the power to impose a certain pen­
`alty.” Id., at 330.
`Substantive rules, then, set forth categorical constitu­
`
`tional guarantees that place certain criminal laws and
`punishments altogether beyond the State’s power to im­
`pose. It follows that when a State enforces a proscription
`
`or penalty barred by the Constitution, the resulting con­
`viction or sentence is, by definition, unlawful. Procedural
`rules, in contrast, are designed to enhance the accuracy of
`a conviction or sentence by regulating “the manner of
`determining the defendant’s culpability.” Schriro, 542
`
`U. S., at 353; Teague, supra, at 313. Those rules “merely
`raise the possibility that someone convicted with use of
`the invalidated procedure might have been acquitted
`otherwise.” Schriro, supra, at 352. Even where proce-
`dural error has infected a trial, the resulting conviction or
`sentence may still be accurate; and, by extension, the
`
`defendant’s continued confinement may still be lawful.
`For this reason, a trial conducted under a procedure found
`to be unconstitutional in a later case does not, as a general
`matter, have the automatic consequence of invalidating a
`
`defendant’s conviction or sentence.
`
`The same possibility of a valid result does not exist
`
`where a substantive rule has eliminated a State’s power to
`proscribe the defendant’s conduct or impose a given pun­
`ishment. “[E]ven the use of impeccable factfinding proce­
`
`
`
`
`
`9
`
`
`
`
`
`

`
`10
`
`
`MONTGOMERY v. LOUISIANA
`
`Opinion of the Court
`dures could not legitimate a verdict” where “the conduct
`being penalized is constitutionally immune from punish­
`ment.” United States v. United States Coin & Currency,
`401 U. S. 715, 724 (1971). Nor could the use of flawless
`sentencing procedures legitimate a punishment where the
`Constitution immunizes the defendant from the sentence
`imposed. “No circumstances call more for the invocation of
`a rule of complete retroactivity.” Ibid.
`
`By holding that new substantive rules are, indeed,
`
`retroactive, Teague continued a long tradition of giving
`
`
`retroactive effect to constitutional rights that go beyond
`procedural guarantees. See Mackey, supra, at 692–693
`
`(opinion of Harlan, J.) (“[T]he writ has historically been
`available
`for attacking convictions on
`[substantive]
`grounds”). Before Brown v. Allen, 344 U. S. 443 (1953),
`“federal courts would never consider the merits of a consti­
`tutional claim if the habeas petitioner had a fair oppor­
`tunity to raise his arguments in the original proceeding.”
`Desist, 394 U. S., at 261 (Harlan, J., dissenting). Even in
`the pre-1953 era of restricted federal habeas, however, an
`exception was made “when the habeas petitioner attacked
`the constitutionality of the state statute under which he
`had been convicted. Since, in this situation, the State had
`no power to proscribe the conduct for which the petitioner
`was imprisoned, it could not constitutionally insist that he
`remain in jail.” Id., at 261, n. 2 (Harlan, J., dissenting)
`(citation omitted).
`In Ex parte Siebold, 100 U. S. 371 (1880), the Court
`addressed why substantive rules must have retroactive
`effect regardless of when the defendant’s conviction be­
`came final. At the time of that decision, “[m]ere error in
`the judgment or proceedings, under and by virtue of which
`
`a party is imprisoned, constitute[d] no ground for the issue
`of the writ.” Id., at 375. Before Siebold, the law might
`have been thought to establish that so long as the convic­
`tion and sentence were imposed by a court of competent
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
`

`
`
`
` Cite as: 577 U. S. ____ (2016)
`
`Opinion of the Court
`In Siebold,
`jurisdiction, no habeas relief could issue.
`however, the petitioners attacked the judgments on the
`ground that they had been convicted under unconstitu­
`tional statutes. The Court explained that if “this position
`is well taken, it affects the foundation of the whole pro­
`ceedings.” Id., at 376. A conviction under an unconstitu­
`tional law
`“is not merely erroneous, but is illegal and void, and
`cannot be a legal cause of imprisonment. It is true, if
`no writ of error lies, the judgment may be final, in the
`sense that there may be no means of reversing it. But
`. . . if the laws are unconstitutional and void, the Cir­
`cuit Court acquired no jurisdiction of the causes.” Id.,
`at 376–377.
`As discussed, the Court has concluded that the same logic
`governs a challenge to a punishment that the Constitution
`deprives States of authority to impose. Penry, supra, at
`330; see also Friendly, Is Innocence Irrelevant? Collateral
`
`Attack on Criminal Judgments, 38 U. Chi. L. Rev. 142,
`
`151 (1970) (“Broadly speaking, the original sphere for
`collateral attack on a conviction was where the tribunal
`lacked jurisdiction either in the usual sense or because the
`statute under which the defendant had been prosecuted
`was unconstitutional or because the sentence was one the
`court could not lawfully impose” (footnotes omitted)). A
`conviction or sentence imposed in violation of a substan­
`tive rule is not just erroneous but contrary to law and, as a
`result, void. See Siebold, 100 U. S., at 376. It follows, as a
`general principle, that a court has no authority to leave in
`place a conviction or sentence that violates a substantive
`rule, regardless of whether the conviction or sentence
`became final before the rule was announced.
`Siebold and the other cases discussed in this opinion, of
`
`
`course, do not directly control the question the Court now
`answers for the first time. These precedents did not in­
`
`
`
`
`
`
`
` 11
`
`
`
`

`
`MONTGOMERY v. LOUISIANA
`
`Opinion of the Court
`volve a state court’s postconviction review of a conviction
`or sentence and so did not address whether the Constitu­
`tion requires new substantive rules to have retroactive
`effect in cases on state collateral review. These decisions,
`however, have important bearing on the analysis neces­
`sary in this case.
`
`
`In support of its holding that a conviction obtained
`under an unconstitutional law warrants habeas relief, the
`Siebold Court explained that “[a]n unconstitutional law is
`void, and is as no law.” Ibid. A penalty imposed pursuant
`to an unconstitutional law is no less void because the
`prisoner’s sentence became final before the law was held
`unconstitutional. There is no grandfather clause that
`
`permits States to enforce punishments the Constitution
`forbids. To conclude otherwise would undercut the Consti­
`tution’s substantive guarantees. Writing for the Court in
`United States Coin & Currency, Justice Harlan made this
`point when he declared that “[n]o circumstances call more
`for the invocation of a rule of complete retroactivity” than
`when “the conduct being penalized is constitutionally
`immune from punishment.” 401 U. S., at 724. United
`States Coin & Currency involved a case on direct review;
`yet, for the reasons explained in this opinion, the same
`principle should govern the application of substantive
`rules on collateral review. As Justice Harlan explained,
`where a State lacked the power to proscribe the habeas
`petitioner’s conduct, “it could not constitutionally insist
`
`that he remain in jail.” Desist, supra, at 261, n. 2 (dissent­
`ing opinion).
`
`If a State may not constitutionally insist that a prisoner
`remain in jail on fede

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