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Breaking: Supreme Court Denies Silk Road Founder Ross Ulbricht’s Petition to Review Life Sentence

Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:09 PM
Josiah Wilmoth
Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:09 PM

The U.S. Supreme Court has denied Ross Ulbricht’s petition for writ of certiorari, preventing the Silk Road operator from appealing his life sentence before the high court.

The Court on Thursday included Ulbricht v. United States in a list of 19 certiorari denied by the court, apparently bringing Ulbricht’s legal saga to what supporters have characterized as a “devastating” close.

As CCN.com reported, legal expert Tom Goldstein had identified Ulbricht’s case as one that raised important constitutional questions that would likely be granted a hearing by the court in an appropriate vehicle.

Specifically, Ulbricht — who operated infamous dark web marketplace Silk Road under the pseudonym “Dread Pirate Roberts” — had argued that his Fourth and Sixth Amendment rights had been violated during his investigation and sentencing.

He alleged that, during the investigation, law enforcement officials had unconstitutionally collected internet traffic information without a warrant and that the sentencing judge had later levied an “unreasonable sentence” based partly on allegations that he had attempted to hire a hitman — a crime for which he was not only never convicted but also never even charged. Ulbricht is currently serving life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Twenty organizations filed amicus curiae briefs in support of Ulbricht’s petition. This support came from across the political spectrum from such diverse organizations as the conservative Gun Owners of America, the libertarian Reason Foundation, and the progressive National Lawyers Guild.

The Court’s recent decision in Carpenter v. United States  had raised hopes among Ulbricht’s supporters that his petition would be granted. In that case, the Court ruled that the Fourth Amendment grants individuals a “legitimate expectation of privacy” over personal data, even if they voluntarily give it to third parties. Carpenter specifically involved location data obtained and stored by cell phone service providers.

Indeed, Ulbricht’s lawyers followed a supplemental brief in light of Carpenter, arguing that law enforcement had obtained evidence against Ulbricht through similar practices that the Court has now said are unconstitutional.

However, the Court ultimately deemed Ulbricht’s case unworthy to receive a hearing, meaning that the decision of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals — which upheld Ulbricht’s sentence — will stand.

Featured image from FreeRoss.org