Let's concentrate on what she has to say about Scalia:
[T]he real wackiness today comes with Justice Antonin Scalia's concurrence, which is nominally about the case but is actually a full-bore global assault on any claim ever made anywhere about the execution or exoneration of an innocent defendant. Nobody is immune to Scalia's nail-spitting this morning: He attacks the 1987 study cited by Souter whose "obsolescence began at the moment of publication"; the "exonerees" who are "paraded by various professors" (from whom else could the word professors be a slur?); and the dissent, which merely "parrots articles or reports that support its attack on the American criminal justice system."...I don't agree that the originalist approach to interpretation is inconsistent with forceful, vivid writing. Lithwick disapproves of the interpretive methodology and that motivates her to portray it as mechanical and inhuman -- the judge as a big computer. Then, she demands consistency within her image and criticizes Scalia for inconsistency. He's not allowed to seem human, because he claimed to be a machine!
Why is he blogging his concurrence, rather than taking a step back and actually writing it with some reasoned regard for the arguments on the other side?...
[Scalia] ... paint[s] the law as this dispassionate machine, into which you enter the legal facts and then download the correct answers. This is not a "moral" process, they say. This is a coolly rational process that works best when meddlesome supreme court judges leave it alone. But then the force of his argument rests wholly on his increasingly hysterical cataloging of the crimes of the so-called "innocent" exonerees. He isn't dispassionate here; he's hardly even rational at points. How can he assert that death isn't different, when it clearly drives him to the brink of insanity?
But I must say that I do love the notion that to show one's human feeling is to sound like a blogger.
Anyway, what's this about "various professors" with their "parade" of "exonorees"? Let's go to the Scaliatext. He's responding to the dissent, which relies at one point on "a handful of studies that bemoan the alleged prevalence of wrongful death sentences."
One study (by Lanier and Acker) is quoted by the dissent as claiming that “ ‘more than 110’ death row prisoners have been released since 1973 upon findings that they were innocent of the crimes charged, and ‘hundreds of additional wrongful convictions in potentially capital cases have been documented over the past century.’ ” Post, at 8 (opinion of Souter, J.). For the first point, Lanier and Acker cite the work of the Death Penalty Information Center (more about that below) and an article in a law review jointly authored by Radelet, Lofquist, and Bedau (two professors of sociology and a professor of philosophy). For the second point, they cite only a 1987 article by Bedau and Radelet. See Miscarriages of Justice in Potentially Capital Cases, 40 Stan. L. Rev. 21. In the very same paragraph which the dissent quotes, Lanier and Acker also refer to that 1987 article as “hav[ing] identified 23 individuals who, in their judgment, were convicted and executed in this country during the 20th century notwithstanding their innocence.” Lanier & Acker, Capital Punishment, the Moratorium Movement, and Empirical Questions, 10 Psychology, Public Policy & Law 577, 593 (2004). This 1987 article has been highly influential in the abolitionist world. Hundreds of academic articles, including those relied on by today’s dissent, have cited it. It also makes its appearance in judicial decisions—cited recently in a six-judge dissent in House v. Bell, 386 F. 3d 668, 708 (CA6 2004) (en banc) (Merritt, J., dissenting), for the proposition that “the system is allowing some innocent defendants to be executed.” The article therefore warrants some further observations.Sorry to print such a long passage, but this is what Lithwick decried as his "increasingly hysterical cataloging of the crimes of the so-called 'innocent' exonerees." Remember, she said "He isn't dispassionate here; he's hardly even rational at points" and that the death penalty "clearly drives him to the brink of insanity." Does Scalia deserve that?
The 1987 article’s obsolescence began at the moment of publication. The most recent executions it considered were in 1984, 1964, and 1951; the rest predate the Allied victory in World War II. (Two of the supposed innocents are Sacco and Vanzetti.) Bedau & Radelet, supra, at 73. Even if the innocence claims made in this study were true, all except (perhaps) the 1984 example would cast no light upon the functioning of our current system of capital adjudication. The legal community’s general attitude toward criminal defendants, the legal protections States afford, the constitutional guarantees this Court enforces, and the scope of federal habeas review, are all vastly different from what they were in 1961. So are the scientific means of establishing guilt, and hence innocence—which are now so striking in their operation and effect that they are the subject of more than one popular TV series. (One of these new means, of course, is DNA testing—which the dissent seems to think is primarily a way to identify defendants erroneously convicted, rather than a highly effective way to avoid conviction of the innocent.)
But their current relevance aside, this study’s conclusions are unverified. And if the support for its most significant conclusion—the execution of 23 innocents in the 20th century—is any indication of its accuracy, neither it, nor any study so careless as to rely upon it, is worthy of credence. The only execution of an innocent man it alleges to have occurred after the restoration of the death penalty in 1976—the Florida execution of James Adams in 1984—is the easiest case to verify. As evidence of Adams’ innocence, it describes a hair that could not have been his as being “clutched in the victim’s hand,” Bedau & Radelet, supra, at 91. The hair was not in the victim’s hand; “[i]t was a remnant of a sweeping of the ambulance and so could have come from another source.” Markman & Cassell, Protecting the Innocent: A Response to the Bedau-Radelet Study, 41 Stan. L. Rev. 121, 131 (1988). The study also claims that a witness who “heard a voice inside the victim’s home at the time of the crime” testified that the “voice was a woman’s,” Bedau & Radelet, supra, at 91. The witness’s actual testimony was that the voice, which said “ ‘ “In the name of God, don’t do it” ’ ” (and was hence unlikely to have been the voice of anyone but the male victim), “ ‘sounded “kind of like a woman’s voice, kind of like strangling or something U .” ’ ” Markman & Cassell, Protecting the Innocent, at 130. Bedau and Radelet failed to mention that upon arrest on the afternoon of the murder Adams was found with some $200 in his pocket—one bill of which “was stained with type O blood. When Adams was asked about the blood on the money, he said that it came from a cut on his finger. His blood was type AB, however, while the victim’s was type O.” Id., at 132. Among the other unmentioned, incriminating details: that the victim’s eyeglasses were found in Adams’ car, along with jewelry belonging to the victim, and clothing of Adams’ stained with type O blood. Ibid. This is just a sample of the evidence arrayed against this “innocent.” See id., at 128–133, 148–150.
Critics have questioned the study’s findings with regard to all its other cases of execution of alleged innocents for which “appellate opinions U set forth the facts proved at trial in detail sufficient to permit a neutral observer to assess the validity of the authors’ conclusions.” Id., at 134. (For the rest, there was not “a reasonably complete account of the facts U [sic] readily available,” id., at 145.) As to those cases, the only readily verifiable ones, the authors of the 1987 study later acknowledged, “We agree with our critics that we have not ‘proved’ these executed defendants to be innocent; we never claimed that we had.” Bedau & Radelet, The Myth of Infallibility: A Reply to Markman and Cassell, 41 Stan. L. Rev. 161, 164 (1988). One would have hoped that this disclaimer of the study’s most striking conclusion, if not the study’s dubious methodology, would have prevented it from being cited as authority in the pages of the United States Reports. But alas, it is too late for that. Although today’s dissent relies on the study only indirectly, the two dissenters who were on the Court in January 1993 have already embraced it. “One impressive study,” they noted (referring to the 1987 study), “has concluded that 23 innocent people have been executed in the United States in this century, including one as recently as 1984.” Herrera v. Collins, 506 U. S. 390, 430, n. 1 (1993) (Blackmun, J., joined by Stevens and Souter, JJ., dissenting).
Remarkably avoiding any claim of erroneous executions, the dissent focuses on the large numbers of non-executed “exonerees” paraded by various professors. It speaks as though exoneration came about through the operation of some outside force to correct the mistakes of our legal system, rather than as a consequence of the functioning of our legal system. Reversal of an erroneous conviction on appeal or on habeas, or the pardoning of an innocent condemnee through executive clemency, demonstrates not the failure of the system but its success. Those devices are part and parcel of the multiple assurances that are applied before a death sentence is carried out.
I could ask why is Lithwick blogging her criticism, but the question answers itself: She's writing for Slate, and Slate readers are sure to love a "Scalia's ca-ray-zee" rant. Are they going to check the Scaliatext or go about their busy lives feeling one notch more certain that Scalia's a wacko?