February 2, 2006

Alito and the culture of life.

And so what do you make of it? The first thing Samuel Alito does as a Supreme Court Justice is vote to prevent the state from executing a man.
Alito, handling his first case, sided with inmate Michael Taylor, who had won a stay from an appeals court earlier in the evening. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas supported lifting the stay, but Alito joined the remaining five members in turning down Missouri's last-minute request to allow a midnight execution....

An appeals court will now review Taylor's claim that lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment, a claim also used by two Florida death-row inmates that won stays from the Supreme Court over the past week. The court has agreed to use one of the cases to clarify how inmates may bring last-minute challenges to the way they will be put to death....

Taylor was convicted of killing 15-year-old Ann Harrison, who was waiting for a school bus when he and an accomplice kidnapped her in 1989. Taylor pleaded guilty and said he was high on crack cocaine at the time.

Taylor's legal team had pursued two challenges -- claiming that lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment and that his constitutional rights were violated by a system tilted against black defendants.

The court, acting without Alito, rejected Taylor's appeal that argued that Missouri's death penalty system is racist. Taylor is black and his victim was white.
President Bush expresses great concern about the "culture of life" and regards Alito as a man of ''steady demeanor, careful judgment and complete integrity.'' It will be interesting to see where that sound judgment takes him.

11 comments:

Gerry said...

You mean on his first day Alito did not vote for wireless wiretapping of the cell phones of all minority women so that they could be given the death penalty if they were discussing abortion?

He might not be as bad as some tried to portray him! He might actually be a careful, restrained, judicious man!

bearbee said...

This should confound 'the end of cilivization' crowd.

BTW I oppose the death penalty.

CB said...

I think it's misleading to characterize this as Alito "prevent[ing] the state from executing a man. He simply allowed the appeal to go forward, delaying the execution. If the stay had been lifted, (I think) the question of lethal injection as cruel & unusual punishment would remain unresolved. If the appeal goes forward, that constitutional question may find its way to the Supreme Court for an authoritative ruling, and will not have to be raised in every death penalty appeal.

ChrisO said...

I hardly think one decision on his first day indicates anything about the man. Claiming this decision means his opponents or supporters were wrong or right is ludicrous.

anonlawstudent said...

What was the court's holding? Why did the court uphold the stay of execution? I'm sure Alito didn't write "the death penalty is wrong." What was the point of law that the court was considering when it upheld the stay?

BTW -- I, of course, oppose the death penalty.

bearbee said...

Nobody is claiming anyone right or wrong based on one decision only that Alito may be just a little bit more nuanced and a good deal more thoughful than his critics wished to believe.

Perhaps the sky will not fall........??

DaveG said...

Taylor was convicted of killing 15-year-old Ann Harrison, who was waiting for a school bus when he and an accomplice kidnapped her in 1989. Taylor pleaded guilty and said he was high on crack cocaine at the time.

If true, and the fact that he was convicted indicates, at least in the eyes of the law, that it is, lethal injection isn't cruel enough, IMHO.

Elizabeth said...

You mean on his first day Alito did not vote for wireless wiretapping of the cell phones of all minority women so that they could be given the death penalty if they were discussing abortion?

That case is still winding its way through the appeals courts. He'll get to it next session.

Mac VerStandig said...

Think Bush was surprised? First 24 hours on the job and Alito is already showing his own convictions...

anonlawstudent said...

Why did Alito vote to support the stay of execution? What was the holding of the court? Does anyone know? Until we know, there's no reason to try to peg the decision as liberal or conservative.

Wade_Garrett said...

The decision was 6-3. Some people are praising it as a shrewd political move on Alito's part, since there was already a majority in favor of staying the execution, so voting with the conservatives wouldn't accomplish anything, and it was an opportunity to prove his independence, thoughtfulness, and so on.

Draw your own conclusions. I'm a little cynical.