In an exercise of the discretionary rule-making authority over the lower federal courts, the Supreme Court in Cheff v. Schnackenburg directed that sentences exceeding six months may not be imposed absent a jury trial or waiver thereof. However, in obliquely withdrawing the previously asserted constitutional basis for the six-months limitation, the Court conceivably has undermined the viability of the criminal contemnor's "right" to a jury trial. Moreover, in light of the potential conflict between the Cheff directive and congressional intent, the precise scope and mode of application of the sentencing restriction remains unsettled.

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