June 29, 2015

The Supreme Court saves the lethal injection and Justice Breyer dissents demanding the complete abolition of the death penalty.

After last week, perhaps (some) conservatives will feel better knowing it's still possible to execute criminals in the United States.

The case is Glossip v. Gross (PDF). The Alito majority rejects the challenge to the 3-drug protocol. An argument was made that the first drug perhaps only immobilized the condemned person and did not prevent the sensation of pain, but an insufficient showing was made. Alito ended with a shot at the dissent:
Finally, we find it appropriate to respond to the principal dissent’s groundless suggestion that our decision is tantamount to allowing prisoners to be “drawn and quartered, slowly tortured to death, or actually burned at the stake.” That is simply not true, and the principal dissent’s resort to this outlandish rhetoric reveals the weakness of its legal arguments.
Justice Thomas's concurring opinion describes the most horrific murders. This graphic presentation is offered in refutation of "Justice Breyer’s assertion... that the death penalty in this country has fallen short of the aspiration that capital punishment be reserved for the 'worst of the worst.'"
... Justice Breyer explains that his experience on the Court has shown him “discrepancies for which [he] can find no rational explanations.” Why, he asks, did one man receive death for a single-victim murder, while another received life for murdering a young mother and nearly killing her infant? The outcomes in those two cases may not be morally compelled, but there was certainly a rational explanation for them: The first man, who had previously confessed to another murder, killed a disabled man who had offered him a place to stay for the night... The killer stabbed his victim’s throat and prevented him from seeking medical attention until he bled to death. The second man expressed remorse for his crimes and claimed to suffer from mental disorders.
ADDED: There's some more material in a later post, here. Also, I note that Breyer stops short of declaring that the death penalty violates the Constitution. He only says it's "highly likely" that it does and that the Court should call for a full briefing on the subject.

107 comments:

tim in vermont said...

Because the Constitution clearly prohibits the death penalty.

LOL. It's funny that we don't even expect principled arguments based on the text from the left side of the court

Humperdink said...

Gee, I thought this was settled *cough* law.

cubanbob said...

After last week, perhaps (some) conservatives will feel better knowing it's still possible to execute criminals in the United States."

Actually considering how visibly political the court has shown itself to be this decision is needed for fig leaf purposes. Suppose Breyer had his way and the court outlawed capital punishment, how could it then leave abortion permissible? Considering the sentiment in this country it might be doubtful that a court that rules it's inhumane to execute murderers due to a possibility they may suffer while dying can continue to say it's ok to dismember or chemically burn an unborn baby. Besides the abortion angel it would be a bizarre situation where the courts demand that a prisoner subject to execution must be guaranteed a painless death which is something government cannot guarantee to anyone else such as a combat infantryman for example. Cruel and unusual was understood as a punishment intended to maximize and prolong pain and suffering which isn't the intent of the current methods of execution.

Laslo Spatula said...

"...drawn and quartered, slowly tortured to death, or actually burned at the stake..."

All three techniques seem to be being applied to the Constitution itself, decision by decision.

I am Laslo.

Mark O said...

I'm just sad that execution is limited to criminals.

Wilbur said...

I have no respect for this Brennan-esque view by Breyer.

The death penalty is clearly mentioned and authorized in other parts of the Constitution. But if all-knowing Justice Breyer doesn't agree with the public policy of having the death penalty, then it's unconstitutional. Because he says so.

No better example of judicial interposition of its policy view over a legislature could be found to exist.

Hubristic and undemocratic. But that's Justice Brennan and his ilk in a nutshell.

tim in vermont said...

After last week, perhaps (some) conservatives will feel better knowing it's still possible to execute criminals in the United States.

That's why we have elections. The reason that the left hate "state's rights" is that it is an impediment to their goal of imposing their values on states where they couldn't win an election to dogcatcher.

Sure claims of "state's rights" has been used in the service of some unsavory causes, so has free speech.

Socrates would have a field day with these guys, and they would probably finally make him drink hemlock too.

tim in vermont said...

I think that if it were put up to an actual vote in NY State that the death penalty could be applied in "nothing to lose" cases like escaped murderers doing life in prison, it would easily pass.

Birkel said...

How often does the Liberal Bloc of Justices find itself on opposite sides of an issue?

MayBee said...

Those crazy liberals! Like herding cats, I tell you, trying to get them in line!

Ignorance is Bliss said...

I have mixed feelings about the death penalty.

I have no mixed feelings about the constitutionality of the death penalty.

Gabriel said...

No mixed feelings about the appropriateness of the death penalty for these men:

"Cole murdered his 9-month-old
daughter after she would not stop crying. Cole bent her
body backwards until he snapped her spine in half. After
the child died, Cole played video games. See Cole v. State,
2007 OK CR 27, 164 P. 3d 1089, 1092–1093. Grant, while
serving terms of imprisonment totaling 130 years, killed
Gay Carter, a prison food service supervisor, by pulling
her into a mop closet and stabbing her numerous times
with a shank. See Grant v. State, 2002 OK CR 36, 58
P. 3d 783, 789. Warner anally raped and murdered an 11-
month-old girl. The child’s injuries included two skull
fractures, internal brain injuries, two fractures to her jaw,
a lacerated liver, and a bruised spleen and lungs. "

Gabriel said...

From Scalia:

Welcome to Groundhog Day. The scene is familiar:
Petitioners, sentenced to die for the crimes they committed
(including, in the case of one petitioner since put to death,
raping and murdering an 11–month-old baby), come before
this Court asking us to nullify their sentences as “cruel
and unusual” under the Eighth Amendment. They rely on
this provision because it is the only provision they can rely
on. They were charged by a sovereign State with murder.
They were afforded counsel and tried before a jury of their
peers—tried twice, once to determine whether they were
guilty and once to determine whether death was the appropriate
sentence. They were duly convicted and sentenced.
They were granted the right to appeal and to seek
postconviction relief, first in state and then in federal
court. And now, acknowledging that their convictions are
unassailable, they ask us for clemency, as though clemency
were ours to give.

The response is also familiar: A vocal minority of the
Court, waving over their heads a ream of the most recent
abolitionist studies (a superabundant genre) as though
they have discovered the lost folios of Shakespeare, insist
that now, at long last, the death penalty must be abolished
for good. Mind you, not once in the history of the American
Republic has this Court ever suggested the death
penalty is categorically impermissible. The reason is
obvious: It is impossible to hold unconstitutional that
which the Constitution explicitly contemplates. The Fifth
Amendment provides that “[n]o person shall be held to
answer for a capital . . . crime, unless on a presentment or
indictment of a Grand Jury,” and that no person shall be
“deprived of life . . . without due process of law.” Nevertheless,
today JUSTICE BREYER takes on the role of the
abolitionists in this long-running drama, arguing that the
text of the Constitution and two centuries of history must
yield to his “20 years of experience on this Court,” and
inviting full briefing on the continued permissibility of
capital punishment, post, at 2 (dissenting opinion).

Gabriel said...

It is well worth keeping in mind, and Scalia points it out, that one of these murderers was already serving a 130 year sentence at the time he committed the murder for which he received a capital sentence.

No executed murderer has ever gone on to murder again.

tim in vermont said...

Justice Breyer explains that his experience on the Court has shown him “discrepancies for which [he] can find no rational explanations.” Why, he asks, did one man receive death for a single-victim murder, while another received life for murdering a young mother and nearly killing her infant?

Well then, Breyer should vote against the death penalty every time the issue comes up in an election. He gets a vote the same as everybody. What gives him the right to arrogate this power to himself to over-ride any legal analysis of the Constitution and to vote according to his personal feelings? Oh, that's right, as Bill Clinton once said: "Because he can."

Rusty said...

After last week, perhaps (some) conservatives will feel better knowing it's still possible to execute criminals in the United States.

Why would you assume only conservatives want the death penalty? A rather bigoted and narrow minded view in my opinion.

garage mahal said...

No executed murderer has ever gone on to murder again.

Yahbut what about the fascists in Wisconsin using the legal system to incarcerate innocent people? How are you so sure those murderers weren't just conservative donors?

Monkeyboy said...

We, as a people have handed over justice to the government. The understanding is that the government will judge guilt or innocent dispassionately but will render punishment on the guilty.

If the government ever decides that it will not render the ultimate punishment for the ultimate crime is the day when the people take back the authority to punish criminals.

There have been cases where child molesters were killed by parents or beaten by neighbors and juries refused to convict.

Gabriel said...

@Rusty:Why would you assume only conservatives want the death penalty?

The death penalty is widely popular in the United State and in Europe.

It's one more example of the rhetorical sleight-of-hand that identifies the mass of the Democratic Party with its elite and the mass of the Republican Party with its rank-and-file.

For example, about 60% of Republicans are creationists and so are 40% of Democrats. African-American Democrats turned out in large numbers to pass Prop. 8 outlawing same-sex marriage in California. A majority of Evangelical Christians voted for Barack Obama in 2008. Etc. The Democratic elite is in favor of free trade, with the rank-and-file opposed, much like Republicans and immigration "reform".

The rank-and-file of both parties are more like each other than they are like their elites, and the elites are more like each other than like their rank-and-file.

Media types, being part of the Democratic elite, naturally think their own party is full of people like themselves and the other party is full of the backward rednecks, but it's not true.

Big Mike said...

I think the death penalty is overused in the US in general, but as was noted by other commentators on the post about Sweat's being captured, it's a plain mistake to leave a man alive with nothing left to lose. In other words, if a convict is already serving life imprisonment, and he or she murders someone else, they can do so for no penalty. Reserve death for someone who is already incarcerated for a lengthy term and who commits a violent felony.

Gabriel said...

@garage mahal: Either piss off, troll, or defend the child rapists, your choice.

Owen said...

Try 'em and fry 'em. Simple.

MayBee said...

I'm not pro-death penalty, but am I correct that more people are killed each year by police lethal force than by the death penalty?

If the death penalty were made illegal, surely there would have to be a movement to take guns from cops.

hombre said...

Meanwhile, the dead-bang reliable, "non-political" liberal wing continues to vote the template, not the Constitution.

"... nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law ...." "Legal reasoning" compels Justice Breyer to conclude that his preferences outweigh the obvious and logical conclusion that one may be deprived of life if due process has been provided.

Gabriel said...

Big Mike:Reserve death for someone who is already incarcerated for a lengthy term and who commits a violent felony.

Doesn't help you; he now has a motive to leave no witnesses alive.

At any rate criminals are not, in general, people who calmly weigh the pros and cons of their actions.

tim in vermont said...

Doesn't help you; he now has a motive to leave no witnesses alive.

Bullshit. The current situation is that there is no reason not to kill a witness.

At any rate criminals are not, in general, people who calmly weigh the pros and cons of their actions.

Science says NO! The death penalty deters the crime of murder.

I know that you consulted your liberal catechism to come up with your little comment, but you are wrong.

clint said...

"Big Mike said...
I think the death penalty is overused in the US in general..."

I went looking for statistics to see whether I agreed with this...

(here: here)

Holy crap. California is way ahead of everyone else. 746 death row inmates in California. 401 in Florida. 271 in Texas, and fewer everywhere else. 61 federal. (Apparently California's had a ten year moratorium on actually executing anyone, but they're still sentencing people to death? Texas has actually executed 520 people in the last forty years, so perhaps the number of death penalty sentences in California and Texas are about the same?)

Given the millions in jail, those numbers don't seem crazy high.

Gabriel said...

@tim in vermont:I know that you consulted your liberal catechism to come up with your little comment, but you are wrong.

Huh? I am a) not a liberal and b) I support the death penalty and have in these very comment threads today. Are you able to read, or do you just not bother?

Howard said...

Death is cruel, but not unusual. Lethal injection is constitutional. The problem with the death penalty is that it is not applied fairly, mistakes cannot be fixed, prosecutorial misconduct goes unpunished and reasonable doubt is not a high enough standard. IMO, if the standard was raised to no doubt and all murder 1 were subject to death, then I would be for it. However, holding death to a higher standard would open the door to all punishment subject to the higher standard.

tim in vermont said...

Whatever Gabriel, your two statements are still both wrong.

Matthew Sablan said...

"Justice Breyer explains that his experience on the Court has shown him “discrepancies for which [he] can find no rational explanations.” Why, he asks, did one man receive death for a single-victim murder, while another received life for murdering a young mother and nearly killing her infant? "

-- Gee. Maybe because one person killed a person, and the other killed a person and ALMOST KILLED ANOTHER?

It's like... we're both SEEING two different things, but only one of us sees it.

garage mahal said...

@garage mahal: Either piss off, troll, or defend the child rapists, your choice.

I guess defending government sponsored executions gives you a chubby in the morning. Anything else you, Saddam Hussein, and ISIS fully agree on?

Matthew Sablan said...

Garage: Being for the death penalty is not the same as what Saddam and ISIS did. For one, we're not throwing homosexuals off roofs or using torture rooms so our politicians' kids can get off. Our approach to the death penalty [even though I'm leery of giving a government that clearly is willing to abuse its power and thwart attempts to investigate it, as we've seen at the federal level in the past few years] is so much different that any attempt to confuse the two is bad faith, and frankly, morally wrong.

This comment is so far out of line that even I'm stepping in to say it went too far.

MayBee said...

Thought: If the death penalty goes away, we could just pay prison guards to let dangerous criminals know the weak points in the prison security system. The prisoners can escape, and then be shot in the woods.

Anonymous said...

Everybody against the death penalty should be forced to do guard duty in a prison full of lifers.

Anonymous said...

And what's with the potshots at (horrible! hegemonic!) conservatives? I'm a conservative but I am against the death penalty.

I have read your blog for seven or eight years and very much admire you. Don't agree on everything, but still enjoy your thinking and your curation of the web. But your occasional snide potshots really subtract from the experience.

JPS said...

tim in vermont:

"Science says NO! The death penalty deters the crime of murder."

That's hotly contested. I think it does, but I don't care. Reading Gabriel's 10:01 comment, I say those murderers clearly deserve execution. Executing them would be the right thing to do even if it had precisely zero deterrent effect on anyone else: They earned it, they should get it.

If I believed it's wrong for the state to take anyone's life for any reason, that the state simply must not have that power; or that by singling out these poster children to support the death penalty, I am guaranteeing it will be used in less deserving cases, then I would have to say I oppose executing even these monsters, even if doing so would deter other, future murders.

garage, 10:52: We can all play this game. You, the late Saddam Hussein and ISIS agree that George Bush is a horrible person. Do you actually think you're making cogent points, apart from what terrible people your political opponents are? Do you have anything to say on the substance?

Rusty said...

Blogger Howard said...
Death is cruel,

Death is inevitable. Some people invite an early end by their behavior.
"Some folks just need killin'"

Matthew Sablan said...

The bigger issue with our current death penalty system is that it is not enforced equally. What we really need to do is decide on what standards are appropriate for the death penalty. Given that we're willing to let the government decide on standards of medical care, pollution policy, etc., etc., we're comfortable with the government deciding on the value of a life.

Now we just need to turn the actuarial tables on the prison population.

Matthew Sablan said...

[Though, personally, I am uneasy with the death penalty, because that's a mistake you can't undo. And the government -- at the state and federal level -- makes a LOT of mistakes.]

CWJ said...

Many of my feelings have already been voiced above. I'll just note that once again "government" wins. Whether it's issuing license plates, handing out subsidies, gaining greater intrusiveness under cover of discovering a new right, or executing sentences, in each case government continues to do what it wants to do.

Saint Croix said...

it might be doubtful that a court that rules it's inhumane to execute murderers due to a possibility they may suffer while dying can continue to say it's ok to dismember or chemically burn an unborn baby.

The Court did exactly this in the 1970's, finding a right to kill unborn children while voiding the death penalty in 40 states. They commuted the sentences of 629 death row inmates.

At the time, Byron White make exactly this argument. "At a conference called to discuss the status of unresolved cases, White raised the possibility that the term's decision on the death penalty might pose a problem for an abortion decision. If the Court struck down the death penalty and at the same time allowed abortions...the public reaction would be awful. The Court would be portrayed as allowing convicted killers to live, and sentencing unborn babies to die." (Quoted in The Brethren, page 264).

In the 1990's, the author of Roe made a highly emotional attack on the death penalty. "From this day forward, I no longer shall tinker with the machinery of death."

Justice Blackmun gave no reason for choosing to announce his new position on this particular, rather ordinary case from among many on the Court's docket. Justice Blackmun's tone was urgent, as if in the twilight of his career he wanted to reopen a dialogue on the death penalty

"I no longer shall tinker with the machinery of death." It's almost a confession, isn't it?

So I'm not surprised that Breyer and Ginsburg are voicing their objections to judges sentencing people to die. What if we are making a mistake? What if we are sentencing an innocent person to die? Their abortion fears are submerged, and come to the surface in a death penalty opinion.

tim in vermont said...
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tim in vermont said...

The prisoners can escape, and then be shot in the woods.

Ah yes, the old "Shot! Vile tryink to exkape!" routine.

That's hotly contested.

Well of course it is. If it were not true that it did deter murder, do you think it would still be "hotly contested"? I don't.

mccullough said...

i appreciate Breyer's honesty. He is Solomon. But we're not his subjects. Not yet anyway.

But that he admits he doesn't believe in the rule of law is refreshing.

Drago said...

Lets cut garage a little slack.

Sure his posts are moronic and adolescent. But at least he is trying to post things just like a real big boy contributor would.

Saint Croix said...

Matt, your comment at 11:08 is spot on.

Saint Croix said...

Also interesting to read about doctors participating in capital punishment.

Healing the sick, or killing people, whatever.

MayBee said...

Has everyone seen the Isis "death penalty" video from last week?

Here is Jeralyn Merritt describing it:

In the 7 minute video, orange-clad prisoners are divided into three groups. Each makes a statement. The first group is put inside a vehicle. An ISIS member fires a grenade missile launcher at the car, blowing it up and setting it on fire. The prisoners burn to death inside the vehicle.

The second group are put in a cage, suspended over water. The cage is lowered and they drown to death. There's a camera underwater filming their painful drowning.[More...]


The third group is forced to kneel on the ground while an ISIS member ties a detonation cord around each, so they are connected to each other. They are then blown up.


Yeah. Not a lot like the death penalty here.

I don't know why this video didn't make more news here, though.

tim in vermont said...

But that he admits he doesn't believe in the rule of law is refreshing.

In a fair world, he would be impeached for admitting that he abuses the power entrusted to him by the people of the United States.

SMGalbraith said...

Geez, first Posner with human sacrifice and hearts ripped out and now Breyer with drawing and quartering and disemboweling.

When Scalia used the word mummery he was not making a request.

mccullough said...

Sending someone to prison for 30 years isn't a mistake you can undo either. You can't turn back the clock on that just because they are still alive. Send the state workers who withheld evidence to the gas chamber instead.

Chuck said...

Good lord, Professor Althouse. With an opening line like that, it is difficult to maintain much respect for you views on Constitutional interpretation.

Cubanbob and Tim in Vermont were on to you in this regard before I even saw this post of yours.

I'm a conservative, and I've been repulsed by the King v. Burwell and Obergefell decisions. But I take no glee in death penalty cases, and I have grave fears about any misuse if the death penalty. But I also know (better than you and Breyer, apparently) that the Constitution was written, enacted and later amended under circumstances in which capital punishment was a clearly understood and accepted part of our national jurisprudence. And if somebody wanted to create and/or find a federal constitutional basis to end the death penalty, a constitutional amendment is what is needed.

I am deadly serious when I say that I can hardly imagine what the future of this country would be if we had a five- or six-justice majority of judges like Breyer.

Larry J said...

Blogger tim in vermont said...

At any rate criminals are not, in general, people who calmly weigh the pros and cons of their actions.

Science says NO! The death penalty deters the crime of murder.


All criminal penalties are meant as deterrents. For example, the sentence for bank robbery is quite steep. It deters over 99% of the people from robbing banks. However, banks are robbed all of the time, so obviously the deterrent doesn't work against bank robbers. The penalties for murder are even steeper (life in prison or death) and yet murders happen every day, so obviously those penalties don't deter everyone. Perhaps they believe they'll never get caught, perhaps they just don't think, or perhaps they just don't give a damn. Regardless of whether the death penalty is an effective deterrent, it's called "capital punishment", not "capital deterrence."

Gabriel said...

@Larry J, Tim in Vermont:

I am 100% for capital punishment regardless of whether it is a deterrent. Among other reasons, it is 100% effective in stopping a murderer from murdering again. It is certainly a "deterrent" in that sense, in that it prevents all further crimes from that particular criminal.

There are death penalty absolutists--they probably don't realize that they are absolutists--who think that one innocent person being executed is so horrible that we should never execute anyone. My approach is not that different--I think if there is a chance that one innocent person could be a murder victim of someone who has murdered before, then capital punishment for that murderer is potentially appropriate.

Many, even most, murderers do never murder again, but once someone has accumulated two, they've already demonstrated by their actions how valuable human life is to them.

CStanley said...

I oppose the death penalty, but every time I read that death penalty opponents have blocked the use of barbiturates I am irate. As a veterinarian, I've performed hundreds of euthanasias with barbiturates and each time I witness an almost instantaneous peaceful death which leaves no room to wonder that it was humane. These activists clearly pursue their ideological ends at the expense of the death penalty recipients who undergo questionable drug cocktails so that the inhumaneness can be demonstrated. That is an act of moral monstrosity.

n.n said...
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n.n said...
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n.n said...

Breyer is a pro-life abortionist? A human life evolves from conception.

Yancey Ward said...

It is only a matter of time before the death penalty is ruled unconstitutional, again, and for exactly the reasons that Breyer hints at. However, this is going to end in philosophical disaster as the exact same argument is going to be leveled at the disparities in the lesser penalties, too.

garage mahal said...

Garage: Being for the death penalty is not the same as what Saddam and ISIS did. For one, we're not throwing homosexuals off roofs or using torture rooms so our politicians' kids can get off

I'd rather be thrown out of a helicopter than sit writhing in pain for hours as an unknown brew of chemicals courses through my body. You're thoughtful, but I see the usual suspects who shriek of prosecutorial government fascism line right behind the government when it comes to executing its citizens. Sick.

Sigivald said...

Breyer has no Constitutional room to stand on for a "complete ban".

The Constitution explicitly authorizes capital punishment for at least treason.

It cannot also forbid it entirely because he thinks it's problematic.

(Also, Mr. Sablan Says:"-- Gee. Maybe because one person killed a person, and the other killed a person and ALMOST KILLED ANOTHER?

It's like... we're both SEEING two different things, but only one of us sees it."


Note that Breyer is wondering why the person who killed only one other was sentenced to die, while the person who killed one and nearly a second was left alive.

I don't agree with his conclusion - "the death penalty is plainly unconstitutional because this looks bad" but you and he are agreeing on the facial logic - the person who does more damage should be punished more harshly.

Our hostess' note that the one showed remorse and the other was callous is, of course, the most likely reason.)

Sigivald said...

"I'd rather be thrown out of a helicopter than sit writhing in pain for hours as an unknown brew of chemicals courses through my body."

Ironically, if it takes hours rather than seconds to kill someone with an injection or a noose, it's precisely because of the deliberate campaigns of people who oppose capital punishment, to remove effective chemical means, or outlaw hanging, and generally try to make it as difficult as possible.

Well, not ironically. It's their goal, and it's working.

Because garage and his ilk are fools, who'll fall for it every time.

Coupe said...

If it was good enough for Marilyn Monroe, then it's good enough for murderers.

damikesc said...

I'd rather be thrown out of a helicopter than sit writhing in pain for hours as an unknown brew of chemicals courses through my body. You're thoughtful, but I see the usual suspects who shriek of prosecutorial government fascism line right behind the government when it comes to executing its citizens. Sick.

Your side wants to make the process torturous.

I oppose death penalty not because it is immoral but because the government is incompetent.

Garage is just a hypocrite who gets his rocks off watching people be tortured.

Hey, how would abortion remain legal in a world where death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment?

Beldar said...

Justices Marshall and Brennan routinely dissented from every denial of certiorari in death penalty cases, and from every opinion which upheld a death sentence, on grounds that they believed it to be unconstitutional in every case.

I don't agree with that, either as a matter of policy or as a matter of Eighth Amendment constitutional interpretation, but I understand their position, and I respected it.

I don't respect opponents of the death penalty who contrive ridiculous arguments to try to end-run the fact that since 1976 a solid majority of the SCOTUS has consistently accepted the constitutionality of the death penalty. And these cases challenging the manner of execution have become ridiculous.

garage mahal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
garage mahal said...

Because garage and his ilk are fools, who'll fall for it every time.

I'm against giving the government the power to execute me using any method.

Coupe said...

I have grown weary of the cost of capital punishment. It is now to the point that we sacrifice the good, in order to pay for the bad. It becomes an evil society.

n.n said...

Coupe:

Sacrificial rites are a right. Over one million innocent human lives are sacrificed annually.

Gabriel said...

@garage mahal: I see the usual suspects who shriek of prosecutorial government fascism line right behind the government when it comes to executing its citizens.

According to you, the United States has been fascist since 1789, because capital punishment was always legal. Piss off, troll.

I'm against giving the government the power to execute me using any method.

Very carefully worded, and may be the first honest you've ever said here.

n.n said...

Why aren't capital executions handled by the abortion industry (e.g. Planned Parenthood)? They already use "humane" methods to abort human lives in mass. There would be no additional cost to society, and Planned Parenthood et al could deduct it as a business expense. #MakeAbortionNotLife

Coupe said...

Over one million innocent human lives are sacrificed annually.

If it doesn't require a lawyer, I'm all for sacrifice.

President-Mom-Jeans said...

That is bitchtits for you, big soft spot in his fat body for Hamas and child molesters.

Have fun at your Bernie Sanders rally, fat boy.

Coupe said...

The Bible says that women are forced to bear children as a punishment for sin.

If a woman decides to remove the unborn from her womb, is that an act against the church, or an act against civil society?

Are the destroyed fertilized eggs in an in vitro Petri dish an abortion against God, or civil society?

These are my questions that I can never answer.

Alex said...

you know garage, we used to have the firing squad or the noose. Very quick. It's you liberals that forced the change to lethal injection.

Coupe said...
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garage mahal said...

According to you, the United States has been fascist since 1789, because capital punishment was always legal.

This country has always had reactionary, revanchist dirtbags like you around unfortunately.

Rick said...

Coupe said...
I have grown weary of the cost of capital punishment


It's a sunk cost. If you eliminate the death penalty those activists will work to oppose life without parole.

Matthew Sablan said...

I don't know Rick. That's a lot harder to sell the mushy middle like me on. I can understand no death penalty. There's a real risk you kill someone you shouldn't with that. I can at least give it a reasonable hearing and come away with an informed opinion.

Life without parole? If the state gets it wrong, we can sue it until it cracks and stops getting it wrong. It is not ideal, but no one is dead. I don't think you can sell the mushy middle on getting rid of it.

Gabriel said...

@Matthew Sablan:Life without parole? If the state gets it wrong, we can sue it until it cracks and stops getting it wrong. It is not ideal, but no one is dead.

Arguments against capital punishment are also arguments against life without parole.

Cruel and unusual? With the distorted meanings given to these nowadays, check. Can't be undone if there was a mistake? Check, you can't give served time back, all you can do is waive the remaining portion to be served. Disparate impact on class and race? Check.

I don't think you can sell the mushy middle on getting rid of it.

No one needs the support of the middle, just a few key judges. Know what's universally unpopular with the middle? Lax immigration enforcement.

It is not ideal, but no one is dead.

That guy in the case under discussion who was already serving 130 years? His victim is dead. If he'd been executed his victim would be alive. How does your moral calculus strain at the gnat of sparing a convicted murderer while swallowing the camel of being perfectly comfortable with his continuing to murder?



garage mahal said...

It is not ideal, but no one is dead.


Since 1973 there have been 154 exonerations* of people sentenced to death in the U.S.

a. Been acquitted of all charges related to the crime that placed them on death row, or

b. Had all charges related to the crime that placed them on death row dismissed by the prosecution, or

c. Been granted a complete pardon based on evidence of innocence.

tim in vermont said...
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tim in vermont said...

That's fine garage. Change the Constitution. Don't decide that you don't care what it says.

Matthew Sablan said...

Right. What I'm seeing is we needed a higher bar and better oversight of prosecutors, and an overall weaker state that doesn't encourage book throwing at people to try and get so many charges to stick so that we have less stress on our court houses so that more time can be given to crimes instead of tying up resources going after minor/non-offenses.

Rick said...

Matthew Sablan said...
I don't know Rick. That's a lot harder to sell the mushy middle like me one


Let me be blunt: your opinion doesn't matter. Don't be offended, mine doesn't either. Activists aren't in the mushy middle, they're on the extremes. And most of them are activists because they are driven to "make a difference", which is another way of saying they feel regular work is beneath them. So they're not going to find jobs developing self-driving vehicles. If the DP is eliminated they will reset their outrage meter and move on the next step just like legalizing gay sex led activists to set a new goal of gay marriage. Don't you think most people saw quite a difference between those two at Lawrence? That was only 12 years ago.

This is inevitable because the activist institutions aren't going to disband any more than MADD or the March of Dimes did. There will be a short lull and then we'll hear that life in prison is worse than the DP. Cue up a thousand university professors who need to study something to justify their funding requests and they're back in business. So it's better to fight for the DP, because once you admit anything reserved for the very worst criminals is unconstitutional because it's rare that same argument will apply to every punishment in turn. And we know this is how institutions work because we watched it happen throughout much of Europe over the last 50 years.

The Norwegian nut who killed 69 people got 21 years. Sure they can keep him in because he's a threat, but if he were a run of the mill murderer instead of someone who specifically targeted left wing political targets he'd be out. Even if we stipulated no parole there's nothing to prevent some governor from listening to the SJW crowd and commuting his sentence, or some government bureaucrat surreptitiously changing the rules.

There's a real risk you kill someone you shouldn't with that.

As far as the risk I agree law enforcement needs significant reform. But that is true whether we have the DP or not. Focusing so single-mindedly on the DP takes focus away from these needed reforms.

Rusty said...

garage mahal said...
Garage: Being for the death penalty is not the same as what Saddam and ISIS did. For one, we're not throwing homosexuals off roofs or using torture rooms so our politicians' kids can get off

I'd rather be thrown out of a helicopter than sit writhing in pain for hours as an unknown brew of chemicals courses through my body. You're thoughtful, but I see the usual suspects who shriek of prosecutorial government fascism line right behind the government when it comes to executing its citizens. Sick.


Then don't murder anybody.

Still. If you want to throw yourself out of a helicopter I won't stop you.

Would you like us to take up a collection so you can rent a helicopter?

Gahrie said...

Since 1973 there have been 154 exonerations* of people sentenced to death in the U.S.

How many people have been killed by convicted murders since 1973?

garage mahal said...

How many people have been killed by convicted murders since 1973?

Smoldering take bro.

n.n said...
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n.n said...
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n.n said...

It's actually logical, in a selective way. There is a presumption that men are rapists and that murderers are innocent. I wonder if this is related to their selective-child policy. Reestablishing sacrificial rites as a right must be a bitter pill to swallow.

n.n said...

Since 1973, over 60 million innocent human lives have been sentenced to death in the U.S. The number of human lives killed in "Gosnell" clinics operated by "Planned Parenthood" et al is undocumented.

Babaluigi said...

I used to work with someone who was later executed for the murder of a woman. When they announced the charges, I recognized the name and thanked God that I had not become his victim, myself. There were countless opportunities when I could have fallen prey to him and been spirited away without a trace.

I personally have a very high threshold for what I would consider "cruel and unusual punishment" for someone who brutalizes others,(even more so when children are the victims) ...somewhat of a "sliding scale", if you will. So, I guess I will never be a judge (well, I would make a great "hanging judge"), and I do not know if I would ever be "allowed" sit on a jury...

In this day and age there should certainly be a review of evidence in order to ascertain with certainty that the correct person is found guilty of capital crime. But once we are certain of their guilt...what is good enough for our cats and dogs is good enough for these human "animals"...

Saint Croix said...

The Bible says that women are forced to bear children as a punishment for sin.

If sex is original sin, it's because sex is a creation story. Sex is how babies are made. And God wants us to love the children we create.

The marriage ceremony sanctifies human sexuality. You are in love and under God. It is wrong to characterize this as sinful behavior.

One of the strangest ideas in Roe v. Wade is this argument that we outlaw abortion because sex is bad. "It has been argued occasionally that these laws were the product of a Victorian social concern to discourage illicit sexual conduct." This is exactly backwards! Jews and Christians took a rigid stance on human sexuality because sex leads to babies and infanticide is evil. Thus we channel human sexuality into marriage so our babies will be loved.

Saint Croix said...

I'm against giving the government the power to execute me using any method.

Welcome to the pro-life movement, Garage!

n.n said...

The Torah records that following original sin, women will henceforth bear the pain of childbirth. Procreation is never described as a punishment. That characterization came later with the gender equivalence movement under progressive liberalism. Different motives. Different time. Different religion.

n.n said...

perhaps (some) conservatives will feel better knowing it's still possible to execute criminals

Following due process, and proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, yes. Now if we could completely abolish selective-child policy.

Coupe said...
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Rhythm and Balls said...

So Scaly-guy sez that because da Constitootion contemplates da death penalty that it could never be found "cruel or unusual". Ok. Thanks Sacklia.

Did da framers say "(N)or cruel or unusual punishments (as judged so by US) inflicted?"

You heard him, America. Da constitooshun prohibits any modern opinion or assessment of what constitutes said attribute. We should now only find to be cruel or unusual what da Republic's daddies found to be cruel or unusual.

Gahrie said...

Da constitooshun prohibits any modern opinion or assessment of what constitutes said attribute. We should now only find to be cruel or unusual what da Republic's daddies found to be cruel or unusual.

Wow..the blind squirrel found a nut!

The only way to make the death penalty unconstitutional is to amend the Constitution.

tim in vermont said...

Well of course it is not "cruel or unusual" it's "cruel and unusual" but you are always free work on amending it.

tim in vermont said...

"We should now only find to be cruel or unusual what da Republic's daddies found to be cruel or unusual."

That's why we can amend the constitution. We don't even have to decide it is 'cruel and unusual' all we have to do is decide we don't want to do it anymore. 2/3 of states agree, because hey! It's 2015, and bingo. It's changed.

tim in vermont said...

Of course R&B has no interest in trying to get such a change enacted democratically.

Unknown said...

The funny thing is, considering how many of the "wrong people" Monty is ready to murder on the way to his soi-disant Radiant Future, that he would find this comes in handy. But I guess his inspiration in the Cheka never worried about a scrap of paper. (Go on, Rhythm and Bullshit, tell us it wasn't the Cheka, it was really the MVD or the OGPU. A Chekist is a Chekist)


https://youtu.be/Geu0R4xGAi4


Rhythm and Balls said...

Of course R&B has no interest in trying to get such a change enacted democratically.

More and more states are, through their democratically elected representatives, enacting further and further prohibitions of the EXECUTION sentence.

That's why Breyer's well within his scope to talk about a changing standard in America broadly. More people oppose it now, and more continue to do so every year. In a much earlier ruling, this was alluded to, and if I'm not mistaken, not objected to by Scalia. The broader consensus nationally means that as a country we are starting to judge, democratically, that it is a cruel/unusual standard of punishment.

But of course now that this is happening, Scalia changes his tune and goes all apeshit about the need for this to occur in state legislatures. Which is fine when it comes to the penalty itself. But for him to have no constitutional objection to approving methods prone to being botched shows what a cruel and barbaric man he is - completely unmitigated from his ideological (and cultural) forebears 500 years ago.

He should recuse himself from ruling on "cruel and unusual" standards of punishment, given how cruel and unusual he is in his own judgmental worldview.

pdn said...

Two points: 1) pain in childbirth is a consequence, not a punishment, 2) assisted suicide is either cruel and unusual, or good enough for the death penalty.