January 16, 2021

"Justice Sotomayor opens her dissent in U.S. v. Dustin Higgs by saying the names of every person executed by the federal government over the past year."

Sister Helen Prejean continues her summary, here, at Twitter, but here's the full text of the dissent, issued yesterday. Excerpt: 
Throughout this expedited spree of executions, this Court has consistently rejected inmates’ credible claims for relief. The Court has even intervened to lift stays of execution that lower courts put in place, thereby ensuring those prisoners’ challenges would never receive a meaningful airing. The Court made these weighty decisions in response to emergency applications, with little opportunity for proper briefing and consideration, often in just a few short days or even hours. Very few of these decisions offered any public explanation for their rationale. 

This is not justice. After waiting almost two decades to resume federal executions, the Government should have proceeded with some measure of restraint to ensure it did so lawfully. When it did not, this Court should have. It has not.

155 comments:

Achilles said...

I agree the State should not have the power to kill citizens.

But I don't see any support for my position in the Constitution.

Sotomayor is a Robed Priest. Not a Judge.

Roughcoat said...

She's a wise Latina. Just ask her, she'll tell you.

MayBee said...

Sotoymayor sees an opening in the Notorious fan club.

West Texas Intermediate Crude said...

The lowlife they executed most recently killed 6 other people that we know about.
Perhaps one of the other justices should read all of their names into the record.
We could be here all day.

mockturtle said...

As if the executions were a bad thing???

DavidUW said...

Is that considered a legal argument.

Achilles said...

Sotomayor has company on the Supreme Court in the Robed Priest wing.

There are 2 actual judges at most who actually derive their rulings and seek answers from the text that they read and interpret.

The rest just wear the skin of a dead institution and stumble around lending credence to a fascist regime with fast fading authority.

David Begley said...

“this Court has consistently rejected inmates’ credible claims for relief. “

Not that credible if they lost. Face it, Sonja. You didn’t have the votes.

And is she suggesting that the law clerks aren’t reading the briefs? Or her fellow Justices aren’t doing their jobs?

Now she knows how WE feel. The TX was credible and we lost. The PA and WI cases really gall me.

Jeff Weimer said...

All this thought and worry for the poor inmates; not a single thought for their victims.

There's a real "seen and unseen" problem with the left. If it can't be seen (murder victims, unborn babies, God), it simply doesn't exist enough to generate any concern.

Mike Sylwester said...

This is a consequence of promoting a judge on the basis of her sex and ethnicity.

Ray - SoCal said...

54 people were on the Federal Death Row:
http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2020/11/30/monday-numbers-as-trump-expedites-u-s-executions-a-closer-look-at-federal-death-row/

Gahrie said...

Why is the Left always so determined to be on the side of thugs and criminals?

They'll bend over backwards to save the life of a murderer and rapist, and then write a check to Planned Parenthood to ensure that we keep aborting 3,000 babies a day.

Tommy Duncan said...

Judicial performance art. How cute.

Nothing says "judicial reasoning" like a good list.

Ryan said...

There's gonna be a lot of butthurt Sotormayor dissents from now on. Trump's legacy.

Jess said...

Dissent is one thing. Using the bench to promote politics is another.

An execution is the final act of a law against an individual for a heinous crime. Sotomayor abused her bench by allowing her politics to cloud the purpose of her position. That's unforgivable and a wise Congress would impeach her for her error.

Unknown said...

Just for background, Higgs was convicted in 2000 of murdering three women in 1996. This isn't exactly a rush to judgment. Perhaps we need a statute requiring all appeals to be filed within one year of conviction and fully resolved by the courts within one year of filing. The problem with capital punishment isn't too little "due process," it's too much due process raised piecemeal over decades.

We know expeditious action is possible because even a low-performance organization like the House of Representatives was able to impeach the President about a week after his alleged "crime or misdemeanor." If the Congress were as eager to promptly deal with actual criminals as it is with people who oppose socialism, we'd all be better off.

Francisco D said...

I remain agnostic on whether the State should have the power to execute people. However, let's not make vicious murderers into hero and victims.

Jersey Fled said...

Sotomayor might be the dumbest SCJ of my lifetime. I rarely agreed with RBG but no one doubted that she was intelligent.

Wince said...

All Sotomayor left out were the lyrics...

"Well you know they've got a hell of a band. Band. Band!"

Leland said...

I agree the State should not have the power to kill citizens.

So I see the post and think about the victims; but of course, if these are by chance innocent people (and with our FBI these days...), then those victims aren't to be blamed on those executed. Then I think of the soldiers are government sent to war and died. And that enters a thought experiment. If the State shall not have the power to kill citizens, then how can it form a military and send them to war? Are not the soldiers, citizens?

Greg Hlatky said...

During the early morning hours of January 27, 1996, Tanji Jackson, Tamika Black, and Mishann Chinn were found murdered in the Patuxent National Wildlife Refuge in Prince George's County, Maryland. Dustin John Higgs was subsequently convicted by a federal jury of three counts of first-degree premeditated murder, three counts of first-degree murder committed in the perpetration or attempted perpetration of a kidnapping, and three counts of kidnapping resulting in death, all of which are punishable by life imprisonment or death. Higgs was also convicted of three counts of using a firearm "during and in relation to [a] crime of violence." Ultimately, Higgs received nine death sentences under the Federal Death Penalty Act of 1994.

U.S. v. Higgs, 353 F.3d 281 (4th Cir. 2003)

Just so's you know it wasn't for stealing a loaf of bread for his starving family.

Heartless Aztec said...

They executions should have been public. No media but public.

Roughcoat said...

Sotomayor might be the dumbest SCJ of my lifetime.

Nah. That would be Thurgood Marshall.

Richard Aubrey said...

Executions are one thing. For a jury to believe the feds is quite another. The wife of the Orlando shooter was on trial as accessor or something like. The jury foreman said they had problems with the FBI's credibility. Suppose Richard Jewell's advisors hadn't been as sharp....

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

Making the most of innumeracy.

M Jordan said...

Years ago I had a class of H.S. Seniors read Orwell’s tI-capital punishment essay “A Hanging.” I took a poll how many opposed capital punishment both before and after reading it. The numbers went up against it after reading the essay, almost to 100%. Then I handed out a news report of the person in Orwell’s essay detailing a grisly multiple murder. It was completely fabricated but my students didn’t know it. I took another poll and now the numbers moved back and beyond the original poll. I then told then my ruse, they were mad at me, but the point was made: Your opinion on capital punishment is easily swayed by your focus.

I personally have decided I’m against C.P. but it isn’t because the issue is simple nor clear cut.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Clearing the backlog.

mockturtle said...

Keep convicted perpetrators of aggravated murder alive but allow the mass killings of innocent unborn children. Why do I find dissonance in this?

Mike of Snoqualmie said...

Congress should nullify any Supreme Court decisions that are just changes in policy. Then impeach one of the Justices that voted on that decision. Doesn't matter which one, as long as it sends the message that Congress makes policy, not SOTUS. Pour engcourager les autres

Ken B said...

America needs more emotional arguments.

To my horror, I found myself in good agreement with Achilles here.

iowan2 said...

Throughout this expedited spree of (something?), this Court has consistently rejected petitioners’ credible claims for relief.

Wow this sounds familiar. I just cant put my finger on it. Something about the courts refusing to allow the presentation of evidence.
That's why I love the comments here. Somebody knows what I remember and can fill in the details for me.

Scott said...

Justice Sotomayor is this court's Thurgood Marshall. There needs to be at least one voice of common sense speaking when the application of the law seems brittle or inhumane.

Mark said...

Capital punishment is barbaric. It doesn't matter if someone "deserves" death, it is a matter of not having the right to kill. The only times someone -- or some group of people constituting the state -- can take another life is in protection of life, e.g. war or self-defense. In rare occasions, that can mean taking the life of a convicted criminal if he/she continues to pose a dangerous threat to others.

All that said, Sotomayor is a fraud as a "justice." That is apparent from this opinion and from any of her opinions and from her voting record. She is an ideologue and partisan for whom "law" has no meaning other than as a means to an end.

Yes, it is awful that all of these executions are taking place. But they are not taking place arbitrarily, they are not taking place because Trump is a bloodthirsty monster. They are taking place because a JURY of people and a JUDGE and several other JUDGES have made a legal judgment under the law. It may be a barbaric law, it may need to be changed, but it is the law nonetheless.

And the fact that these cases piled up is precisely because the LACK of a rule of law. Because the law was ignored and corrupted. THAT is the tyranny here.

gspencer said...

As the Wide Latina is wont to say, "Killing of the guilty is bad, bad. Killing of the innocent, good, good. Abortion without apology. Abortion now, abortion abortion tomorrow, abortion forever."

daskol said...

I remember another Prejean, from more innocent days when Trump was just a celebrity who ran a beauty pageant, and getting canceled was kind of novel.

Lexington Green said...

Name all the victims.

Eleanor said...

Ban abortion first. Then we can talk about capital punishment. Being against both or for both is being comsistent. Being against abortion but for capital punishment can be justified, but being against capital punishment but for abortion has no moral justification whatsoever. Sotomayor is not fit to sit on the bench making moral judgments for any of us. Capital punishment is legal and all legal steps had been taken. Her dissent is not a legal one.

daskol said...

The fascination some women have with awful men, for lost causes, knows almost no bounds, at least not that I can see. The fan mail Charles Manson gets attests to it. The other Prejean married a handsome ex-NFL qback. No expert, but superficially he seems a much easier guy to love than condemned murderers.

iowan2 said...

I was an unapologetic, fact based supporter of the Death Penalty. I always supported the PEOPLES power to execute the guilty according to the applicable statutes. There is not a single area I can see SCOTUS having jurisdiction.

Having laid that out.
The Government at any level no longer is honest enough to have the power to take a humans life. I tell my elected Republican Representatives my views and encourage them to support the elimination of Capital Punishment at the State and Federal levels.

The cops, the prosecutors, and yes the judges, are too corrupt to be entrusted with this power. Sotomayors little stunt here proves judges have no interest is enforcing the wishes of People thru their representative government.

madAsHell said...

The wise Latina just washed her hands in their blood.

Amadeus 48 said...

And every single one of those executed was innocent. [sarc.]

I am opposed to the death penalty because of the way it is prosecuted--John Gacey, Ted Bundy, Timothy McVeigh--executed. Charles Manson, Richard Speck, Terry Nichols--not executed. Also, it takes 20 years to kill someone off. And it is final, so you can't undo mistakes.

Life without parole is the way to go.

Unknown said...

I'm pretty sure that Glenn Reynolds stated that "the police aren't there to protect the people from the criminals, they're there to protect the criminals from the people." Regardless of who said it, it make sense to me. It also explains why expanding the riots into upscale suburbs is limited to blue cities--Antifa/BLM should try that tactic in a red state and see how it works out for them.

Amadeus 48 said...

Sotomayor is not my favorite justice because she doesn't really believe in justice--she believes that there are always extenuating circumstances.

She wants to use the old "root cause" routine--send in the social workers!--but she never gets to the real root cause--some people are evil.

Mark said...

Sorry, I must dissent here too.

Life in prison without parole is NOT any less barbaric than simply killing them. In some ways, it is even more malicious. To be locked in a cage all your days, always someone watching you, controlling you.

We bitch about the COVID home lockdowns. And rightly so. Try being locked in your cushy bedroom for 20-plus hours a day, every day, for 30-40 years. Then compare it to a cold cell.

mockturtle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amadeus 48 said...

Mark--some introverts might like it.

Further, what is your argument? That vicious killers should serve some time and then get out? Are you arguing for more humane prisons? OK, but remember, these folks put people in the cold, cold ground. What do you think should happen to these killers of others?

Big Mike said...

The turning point was Tim McVeigh. Once his execution date came due the federal government lost interest in their game of de facto turning capital sentences into life without parole by repeated stays of execution. That’s how it used to be, but McVeigh’s execution caused the game to be stopped and to my knowledge it hasn’t resumed.

I don’t recollect whether Sotomayor was on the Court when Tim McVeigh’s execution date came up, and I can’t be bothered to look it up, but I rather doubt she’d have voted for any stay of execution in his case. So imagine there’s a bit of hypocrisy going on here.

Jersey Fled said...

I don't think cells are cold anymore.

But then again, I haven't been to prison lately.

mockturtle said...

A judge used to say, when handing down the death sentence, "May God have mercy on your soul". Those sentenced to be executed can seek God's mercy. Those truly repentant of their sins will forgiven--in heaven.

Mark said...

My response Amadeus is that sometimes every road, every option, is bad. My response is not so much an attempt to answer the question about what to do with really bad people, but to criticize the air of moral supremacy of those who condemn death penalty advocates by calling for decades of imprisonment, as if it is less horrific than killing them.

Clark said...

The Breyer dissent is the more interesting one, I think. He argues essentially that all the rules that would bring finality to a death penalty judgment should be put to the side.

"Given the finality and severity of a death sentence, it is particularly important that judges consider and resolve challenges to an inmate’s conviction and sentence. How just is a legal system that would execute an individual without consideration of a novel or significant legal question that he has raised?"

A novel legal question can always be put forward just before execution. Breyer is for endless delay. Then he complains that the delay between conviction and execution is too long. In recent federal cases: 21 years, 20, 16, 16, 12.

"Today, the Government executes Higgs 20 years after his conviction. The longer the delay, the weaker the basic penological justifications for imposing the death penalty in the first place become, and the greater the psychological suffering inflicted on the death row inmate. I remain convinced that this dilemma arises out of efforts to impose the death penalty. Together with other problems that I have previously described, it calls into question the constitutionality of the death penalty itself."

In other words, Breyer is just saying "I am against the death penalty."

Christopher said...

Sotomayor--she's the stupid one, right?

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

I'd like to see a list of their victims.

Does sotomyer assume all those men are innocent and guiltless?

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

Are people on death row there for a reason?

To the left - it's as if they are not.

all of a sudden their heinous crimes and murder- vanish.

SHOW ME A LIST OF THEIR VICTIMS.

Yancey Ward said...

As I always write when this issue arises- I don't support the death penalty, and would like to see the various states all vote it down and replace the death sentences with life without possibility of parole. However, having written that, I also believe the Constitution does not rule against the death penalty, and the juries that have directed it be implemented in the specific cases are within their legal power to do so.

I also know another thing- I know that even if I got my preferences, the major opponents of the death penalty, the left, would then immediately turn towards making illegal all true life sentences, too.

Achilles said...

Leland said...

I agree the State should not have the power to kill citizens.

So I see the post and think about the victims; but of course, if these are by chance innocent people (and with our FBI these days...), then those victims aren't to be blamed on those executed. Then I think of the soldiers are government sent to war and died. And that enters a thought experiment. If the State shall not have the power to kill citizens, then how can it form a military and send them to war? Are not the soldiers, citizens?

I volunteered for the right to die.

Our justice system worked for a while but it needs to evolve. It is currently based on the sensibilities of animal thinking patterns.

We can do better.

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

why are the people on death row more important that their slain victims?

Think about the depravity it would take to honor a list of cold blooded killers like that.

Big Mike said...

@Yancey Ward, my instinct is that the death penalty is overused, but I would never leave a person alive with nothing left to lose. A person like that is more dangerous than a black widow spider crawling up your forearm. What threat do you propose to hold over the head of a person already imprisoned for life without parole if not execution?

And I do agree with your second paragraph.

Ann Althouse said...

"I agree the State should not have the power to kill citizens. But I don't see any support for my position in the Constitution. Sotomayor is a Robed Priest. Not a Judge."

Did you read the opinion?

Do you think that there are no constitutional rights that could be asserted to stop an execution?

Check your answer by seeing which rights Sotomayor talked about in her opinion.

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

"executed by the federal government"


If your crime is so heinous to warrant a death sentence - I'd say you did that to yourself.
*never forget the victims*

Achilles said...

mockturtle said...

A judge used to say, when handing down the death sentence, "May God have mercy on your soul". Those sentenced to be executed can seek God's mercy. Those truly repentant of their sins will forgiven--in heaven.

You people are giving a government completely run by fascist Democrats with a puppet like Joe Biden about to seize power the power to kill people under color of law.

You are not thinking at all.

That is really just dumb.

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

Don't most people on death row sit there for decades... exercising their constitutional rights?

daskol said...

If they want to deal a death-blow to the death penalty, SCOTUS should switch to mail-in voting.

Achilles said...

Ann Althouse said...

"I agree the State should not have the power to kill citizens. But I don't see any support for my position in the Constitution. Sotomayor is a Robed Priest. Not a Judge."

Did you read the opinion?

Do you think that there are no constitutional rights that could be asserted to stop an execution?

Check your answer by seeing which rights Sotomayor talked about in her opinion.


I know for a fact that no where in the Constitution does it say: "The Government can not impose the death penalty."

There is nothing remotely in that vicinity.

So what Sotomayor did was take some language somewhere and twisted it to say what she wants the answer to believe.

You are a lawyer. You like to think words mean whatever you want them to mean.

It is your religion.

The religion of people who worship those in black robes.

Yancey Ward said...

"Do you think that there are no constitutional rights that could be asserted to stop an execution?"

Depends on what rights are being asserted in each of the specific cases. If the claim is that the Constitution forbids the penalty, then a summary dismissal by SCOTUS is appropriate. I am asssuming, perhaps wrongly, that in these particular cases the defendants have spent years exercising their rights through the lower courts and have had them denied, by first the trial judge and then the appeals courts.

It isn't like there is anything new in any of these appeals by the time they reach the level of Dustin- at some point SCOTUS does have to stop entertaining appeals like this.

Achilles said...

Marbury vs. Madison was the original foundation of the Judicial Theocracy.

The Supreme Court decided that it was the sole arbiter of language.

That words meant what they decided they meant and that every word in the constitution could be applied to anything that they wanted to happen.

That is how they found the Right to an abortion in there.

And they explicitly ignore the 9th and 10th amendments to do so.

J Oliver said...

One problem with doing away with the death penalty is that it is a free pass to kill guards and prisoners in prison. What'll it hurt?

Skeptical Voter said...

Ah geez Justice Breyer--20 years waiting for appeals to be resolved equals "the greater the psychological suffering" of the inmate with a death sentence. One way to ease that psychological suffering is to execute them quicker. But somehow I don't think that's what Breyer wants.

And West Texas Intermediate Crude is correct when he suggests that countering Sotomayor's list of those executed---with a much longer list of those they murdered--should have been done.

Patrick Henry was right! said...

What is the reason for this leftist obsession with the glorification of criminals??? These are ALL horrific murderers.

Sally327 said...

I wonder if she thought it would have the same impact as the names of the fallen on the Vietnam War Memorial or the reading of the victims' names at 9/11 services. If she did I think she was wrong.

I think the left intends to deal with the death penalty issue by simply not prosecuting the crimes, at least based on what the Soros-sponsored prosecutors who get into office are doing around the country. But then I believe the left considers criminals to be fellow travelers and a weapon to be used to destroy the existing society more quickly and effectively.

Tinderbox said...

This kind of grandstanding is for the Legislative branch, not the Judicial.
But hey, we could always release all these suffering souls into a halfway house in Sotomayor's neighborhood if she's that concerned.

And J Oliver, that's the justification I've always found for it. No one seems to care about the lives of those assigned to guard these animals for the rest of their lives.

D.D. Driver said...

One problem with doing away with the death penalty is that it is a free pass to kill guards and prisoners in prison. What'll it hurt

Is there any data to support this? Plenty of states do not have the death penalty. Are there more guard assaults in states without the death penalty instead of those without?

Achilles said...

J Oliver said...

One problem with doing away with the death penalty is that it is a free pass to kill guards and prisoners in prison. What'll it hurt?

The other prisoners will deal with the issue if the guards don't

You all do not follow to logical conclusions a society that worships laws.

The problem is that laws are still enforced by people.

In all cases these are people that are drawn to a position of putting on a black robe and having the authority to sentence others to death.

What kind of person wants the job of sentencing people to death?

Do you want that kind of person judging you?

You people are not thinking about this enough.

Kevin said...

I’m so old I remember when courts not hearing your case meant there couldn’t be credible claims.

mockturtle said...

Someone has probably created a quilt 'honoring' those who have been executed. That seems to be the mindset of the day.

Again, "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink: Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!" Isaiah 5:20-23

Francisco D said...

Big Mike said... I don’t recollect whether Sotomayor was on the Court when Tim McVeigh’s execution date came up, and I can’t be bothered to look it up, but I rather doubt she’d have voted for any stay of execution in his case. So imagine there’s a bit of hypocrisy going on here.

She wasn't, but you raise an interesting point. I thought that McVeigh was tried, convicted and executed rather quickly with the obvious assistance of his lawyer. Were they trying to shut him up? That is what scares people about the State having the power to execute.

NCMoss said...

I wonder if the white-hot anger against President Trump is the result of his being so vocally pro-life. Walk for Life, BTW, next Saturday in San Francisco.

Sebastian said...

Worse than the killing of killers is killing the rule of law.

That's where we are.

But if all divisive issues are decided on the basis power and power alone, that is a recipe for more future killing.

The Cracker Emcee Refulgent said...

She left Ashli Bobbit off her list.

How am I the first?

mockturtle said...

Achilles asks: What kind of person wants the job of sentencing people to death?

In these cases, I would be glad not only to sentence them but to carry out the sentence. What kind of person is the one sentenced to have sent these innocent people to their deaths? And why should we taxpayers foot the bill to feed and house them for decades? That's the real question.

Achilles said...

Sebastian said...

Worse than the killing of killers is killing the rule of law.

That's where we are.

But if all divisive issues are decided on the basis power and power alone, that is a recipe for more future killing.


An armed society is a polite society.

When gun ownership goes up murder rates go down.

We decentralize security.

Why do you believe decentralizing enforcement of law will have a different effect? Under the current circumstances I trust the average citizen much more than the average democrat elected judge in Seattle.

Achilles said...

mockturtle said...

Achilles asks: What kind of person wants the job of sentencing people to death?

In these cases, I would be glad not only to sentence them but to carry out the sentence. What kind of person is the one sentenced to have sent these innocent people to their deaths? And why should we taxpayers foot the bill to feed and house them for decades? That's the real question.

Are you certain of that?

How many times will you sentence someone to death and be absolutely positive you were right every time?

Do you absolutely trust all judges? All prosecutors?

Especially now when half the AGs in our country are being directly financially supported by George Soros?

rehajm said...

I’m so old I remember when courts not hearing your case meant there couldn’t be credible claims.

We must be the same age...

rhhardin said...

Death without the possibility of parole is even harsher.

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

I wonder what the parents or loved ones of children who were murdered by that list, think of that list of killers?

Narr said...

Let's send the miscreants to Coventry a la Heinlein.

I'm of two or more minds on capital punishment. I think it can be morally justified in the abstract in some circumstances (heinous crimes; treason), but in current reality (and with the ascendance of obviously vicious vengeance-seekers like VP K-ho) it becomes more . . . problematic.

There are some dangerously defective carbon based units in our biosphere, and the healthy ones have a right to protect themselves.

Narr
A duty, even

Jeff Weimer said...

Gahrie said...
Why is the Left always so determined to be on the side of thugs and criminals?

They'll bend over backwards to save the life of a murderer and rapist, and then write a check to Planned Parenthood to ensure that we keep aborting 3,000 babies a day.


Seen and unseen. The unborn and the victims simply don't *exist* to these people.

Bob Smith said...

Like a lot of folks I’m opposed in principle to the death penalty but when I read the details of the crimes people are on death row for I find it hard to maintain my opposition. And there is a practical consideration. Once you slip them the needle they never reoffend.

BUMBLE BEE said...

It is said that each addict (alcohol or other drugs) negatively affects about 72 people in their realm. Murder could well be on par. Justice? John Sullivan - Antifa/BLM- Capitol Rioter released no bail - house arrest.

Jeff Weimer said...

Scott said...
Justice Sotomayor is this court's Thurgood Marshall. There needs to be at least one voice of common sense speaking when the application of the law seems brittle or inhumane.


No, that really is Clarence Thomas, Marshall's successor.

tim in vermont said...

It’s been clear all along that Sotomayer doesn’t have the capacity for abstract thought that used to be required of a Supreme Court ‘Justice’ and that she is only there because her vote is utterly predictable, RGB had the same exact predictable vote, but she at least pretended that she had reasoned her way into these positions.

tim in vermont said...

"There needs to be at least one voice of common sense speaking when the application of the law seems brittle or inhumane.”

That’s the job of legislatures. You are describing a philosopher king.

Achilles said...

BidenFamilyTaxPayerFundedCrackPipe said...

I wonder what the parents or loved ones of children who were murdered by that list, think of that list of killers?

Is this an argument for allowing the government to kill people?

You seem to have a disconnect somewhere.

Lurker21 said...

Everybody has a plausible line or narrative nowadays. That's why people are so cynical. Purging Trump won't change that. It will only make it worse.

Was Higgs guilty? I don't know and couldn't begin to cut through all the argumentation, which I assume is just presented to prove one side or the other, rather than to say what actually happened.

That he gets the chair while the actual triggerman doesn't, though, is troubling.

tommyesq said...

Sotomayor tries to make it seem like the government put off all forms of appeal for these prisoners until after the 2019 Protocol was implemented, and then rushed to execute people in a break from the two-decade hiatus, and that the rapid pace of these executions makes them wrong. In reality, the two-decade hiatus was caused by pharmaceutical companies refusing to provide one of the drugs that had been used in the three-drug execution method then in use. Those executed following the change to the protocol had the full two decades to prosecute all of their appeals, save the question of whether the use of phenobarbital (the single drug used in the 2019 Protocol) was unconstitutionally cruel and unusual. This is the method used in 14 states, however, and its Constitutionality has already been upheld by the Supreme Court (a fact that Sotomayor tellingly omits from her dissent when she discusses a different prisoner whose injunction of execution pending an Eighth Amendment challenge to the use of phenobarbitol was lifted in a per curiam decision). In fact, the bulk of Sotomayor's dissent discussed executions of prisoners other than Higgs.

tommyesq said...

This appeal was essentially a technicality, and one based not on the Constitution but instead on the application of a statute. The statute requires that the method of execution be that used by the state in which the sentence was imposed. The Statute makes clear, however, that the absence of a death penalty in the state in which the sentence was imposed would not bar sentencing a convict to death - it allows the government to designate an alternate state that does permit the death penalty, with the method of execution to be that of the alternate state. In other words, there is no question that the statute does not allow an individual state to have effectively veto power over the availability of a death sentence in a federal case.

At the time of sentencing, which took place in a federal court in Maryland, Maryland allowed death sentences to be imposed, so the government did not designate an alternate state. During the hiatus on actual executions, and some twelve years after the death sentence was imposed, Maryland abolished the death penalty. The government sought to designate an alternate state (Indiana, where Higgs is actually imprisoned and where the sentence was carried out), which the Maryland district court denied, saying that they believed they lacked the authority to do so because of a different statute that prohibits the modification of a final judgment save under circumstances not present in the Higgs case.

tommyesq said...

The statute in question states:
[1] A person who has been sentenced to death pursuant to this chapter shall be committed to the custody of the Attorney General until exhaustion of the procedures for appeal of the judgment of conviction and for review of the sentence. [2] When the sentence is to be implemented, the Attorney General shall release the person sentenced to death to the custody of a United States marshal, who shall supervise implementation of the sentence in the manner prescribed by the law of the State in which the sentence is imposed. [3] If the law of the State does not provide for implementation of a sentence of death, the court shall designate another State, the law of which does provide for the implementation of a sentence of death, and the sentence shall be implemented in the latter State in the manner prescribed by such law.

The district court determined that the third clause necessarily requires designation of an alternate state at the time of sentencing, rather than at the time at which the sentence is to be implemented (i.e., when execution is to occur). The judge noted that in every past instance in which an alternate state was designated, it was done at the time of sentencing.

I think this reasoning is incorrect. In my opinion, the natural reading of the statute is the prisoner is placed in to custody and remains there until exhaustion of all appeals, and is then turned over to the U.S. Marshalls who execute him/her in accordance with the method permitted by the subject state, and if at that time the state does not allow executions, a different state is designated. I think this interpretation flows from the actual language of the statute, as well as from the clear intent that no one state can prevent execution of a federal prisoner by failing to provide a method of execution. Notably, the judge could point to only two other cases in which the state in which a death sentence was made abolished the death penalty prior to the prisoner being executed, both of whom were convicted in 2006, eight years after Higgs was convicted. In both cases, the government has not yet set an execution date, and I could not determine if their appeals had been exhausted, but given Higgs' earlier date of conviction, one would expect the government to move forward with his execution before theirs.

tommyesq said...

Of course, none of this really addresses whether the government should have the power to hand down a death sentence. It does seem clear, however, that the Constitution allows for it and allows for the method actually used to execute Higgs, and that the statutory provisions were not intended to allow a state's abolition of the death penalty to alter such a sentence on a federal prisoner.

tim in vermont said...

Sotomayer is there to correct the thought mistakes of the people of the United States as expressed through their elected representatives.

mccullough said...

Justice delayed is justice denied.

Gahrie said...

Life in prison without parole is NOT any less barbaric than simply killing them. In some ways, it is even more malicious. To be locked in a cage all your days, always someone watching you, controlling you.

We bitch about the COVID home lockdowns. And rightly so. Try being locked in your cushy bedroom for 20-plus hours a day, every day, for 30-40 years. Then compare it to a cold cell.


You're kidding right? If the government would actually do something about prisoner on prisoner violence, prison wouldn't be so bad these day. Three hots and a cot, color television, a bitching gym, basketball courts ect. The discipline involved is less than what enlisted members of the military go through.

Achilles said...

Kamala Harris was a prosecutor and is soon going to be President.

She sent people to jail for smoking pot after smoking pot in college for a decade.

She got her job as prosecutor by sucking Willy Browns dick.

This is the type of person you want to give the power to kill people.

n.n said...

Abortion culture? Does Sotomayor assume/assert that they were elective procedures or there were viable alternatives, four choices other than Pro-Choice or similar ethical discretion?

Were they abortionists or merely "burdens"? Meanwhile, China has evolved... progressed from the Great Leap to one-child to selective-child (i.e. delegated and shared/shifted responsibility and other purposes). In retrospect, selective-girls was a bad choice.

The tell-tale hearts beat ever louder.

Gahrie said...

Do you think that there are no constitutional rights that could be asserted to stop an execution?

Only if it was going to be deliberately cruel and unusual.

Gahrie said...

This is the type of person you want to give the power to kill people.

Not me. I want to leave it where it belongs, with a judge, jury and trial.

n.n said...

I agree the State should not have the power to kill citizens.

But I don't see any support for my position in the Constitution.


Twilight Amendment that, among other things, established the Progressive Church/Synagogue/Temple/Mosque/Clinic/Office etc. and State, and socially justified elective abortion of human lives by the millions. Were these people... persons innocent or was there reasonable doubt to their capital offenses against individuals, society, and humanity? Pro-Choice would indeed be a bad choice.

gilbar said...

Gahrie said...
Do you think that there are no constitutional rights that could be asserted to stop an execution?
Only if it was going to be deliberately cruel and unusual.


Don't forget
Without access to a jury trial
If it was the second time that you were tried for the offense
If it was an execution because of impeachment (Sorry igna, rules are rules; no noose for Trump)

n.n said...

"This is the type of person you want to give the power to kill people."

Not me. I want to leave it where it belongs, with a judge, jury and trial.


Yes, due process is a civil right, not Pro-Choice, a minority/democratic (i.e. mob) choice for investigation, judgment, conviction, sentencing, and execution.

Steven said...

I'm wondering, is the American left under the impression that, just like the word "flammable" means the same thing as "inflammable", they think "credible" means the same thing as "incredible"?

That would explain so many uses of the word "credible" I saw in the last four years, including Sotomayor's above.

Rabel said...

"Did you read the opinion?"

I did. But couldn't find any reference to "victims" or "murder."

Jim said...

IN 1953, Missouri executed the two killers of Bobby Greenlease less than 100 days after the murder. Now that’s efficiency. Our court system is broken beyond repair arm yourselves and protect your own loved ones.

Gahrie said...

Without access to a jury trial
If it was the second time that you were tried for the offense
If it was an execution because of impeachment (Sorry igna, rules are rules; no noose for Trump)


I assumed that those were givens.

Achilles said...

Gahrie said...

This is the type of person you want to give the power to kill people.

Not me. I want to leave it where it belongs, with a judge, jury and trial.

Have people in these positions following this protocol ever been wrong?

rcocean said...

So what? Sotomayor wants to impose her personal beliefs on the USA. She wasn't appointed to be a Philosopher-King but to interpret and uphold the Constitution. When are people ever going to wake up and rein in the unchecked Judicial Power?

Scalia stated years ago that the liberal justices and Anthony Kennedy were expressing view "untethered to the Constitution". I guess he forgot to include Roberts.

rcocean said...

There are two separate issues, which the dummies at Althouse never seem to grasp:

1) Is the Death Penalty Wrong
2) is the death Penalty unconstitutional

There are completely separate. But carry on talking about your PERSONAL Beliefs.

madAsHell said...

She doesn't understand that out-sourcing law enforcement to property owners is dangerous.

The ammo shelves are still empty.

Jeff Weimer said...

@Achilles:

Yes. However, the current system of litigating the crime over and over again over decades - insisted upon by those (like you?) who wish to abolish it - necessarily reduces that error to an almost infinitesimal point. Most arguments at the USSC to deny come down to unrelated technicalities like recovering from COVID or "their parents were bad people."

Jeff Weimer said...

@rcocean

1) That's a philosophical question, and entirely about personal beliefs. Sister Prejean has been consistent her opposition to it, no matter how tendentious she can be about promoting it. She simply doesn't care where support comes from, as long as she gets it.

2) It is currently not unconstitutional, but *has* been considered by the USSC "cruel and unusual" -and thus banned - in living memory. Charles Manson dying in prison was the result of that. It could be again. Considering the professed Catholic contingent on the USSC it could be again. The roadblocks put in by various parties to make it take so long to execute (it is now routine to appeal to USSC any and all death penalty cases) are designed to create a crisis between the 6th and 8th Amendments.

Gahrie said...

It is currently not unconstitutional, but *has* been considered by the USSC "cruel and unusual" -and thus banned - in living memory.

When the Founding Fathers wrote; "be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." they were explicitly saying that people could be deprived of life with due process of law. This was written at the same time as the "cruel and unusual" clause so you cannot argue that execution is cruel and unusual; because if they thought it was, they would have said "no person can be deprived of life." instead.

Gahrie said...

Not me. I want to leave it where it belongs, with a judge, jury and trial.

Have people in these positions following this protocol ever been wrong?


Occasionally. However to my knowledge, no one has ever been proven to have been executed in error. I concede that people have been freed from life row because of error. Which actually proves the system works.

Our criminal justice system, like all things human, is imperfect. Mistakes are made, corruption occurs, and sometimes tragedy and/or injustice results. But it's the best we can do, and works well when given the chance. It allows millions of murderous primates to live extremely closely together in relative peace and harmony. I believe there would be less violence than there currently is, if the death penalty was used as it actually should be. right now you have a better chance on winning the lottery than being executed, even after conviction and sentence.

One reason why the death penalty will never be used appropriately is that the demographic effects would be very visibly evident.

Ken B said...

There is a middle ground. Abolish the death penalty. House the worst murderers in private prisons. These prisons don’t feed murderers. Terms of service, check the fine print.

Hey, it’s a private company, they can do what they want!

Achilles said...

Jeff Weimer said...

@Achilles:

Yes. However, the current system of litigating the crime over and over again over decades - insisted upon by those (like you?) who wish to abolish it - necessarily reduces that error to an almost infinitesimal point. Most arguments at the USSC to deny come down to unrelated technicalities like recovering from COVID or "their parents were bad people."


I think our current system of justice for murderers is really stupid.

I will not defend any part of it.

Gator said...

Dustin Honken murdered a 6 year old and a 10 year old. If Sotomayer wants to celebrate him she should resign from SCOTUS

Francisco D said...

I am getting the strong sense that opinions on capital punishment do not break along traditional right-left lines.

daskol said...

Not trolling, generally curious: what does reliably break along right-left lines anymore?

Lurker21 said...

I detect a trend here. Will "Dustin" replace "Wayne" and "Lee" as most common murderer's name?

Matt Sablan said...

"As I always write when this issue arises- I don't support the death penalty, and would like to see the various states all vote it down and replace the death sentences with life without possibility of parole. However, having written that, I also believe the Constitution does not rule against the death penalty, and the juries that have directed it be implemented in the specific cases are within their legal power to do so."

-- That's about where I stand. Life without parole also means if the government makes a mistake, or as is seeming more likely, rushes someone through a kangaroo court for "treason," there's a safety valve. I simply don't trust the government enough to let it decide who should live and die like this.

n.n said...

Sotomayor is playing with a double-edged scalpel. She is concerned about normalizing elective abortion, which is a laudable goal. However, she wants to abort her baby... Fetal-American and have her, too. The issue is to mitigate the progress of elective abortions without due process and to reconcile with religious/moral/ethical beliefs about the proper status of [human] life. Judgments where there is reasonable doubt should stay capital abortions, and commute her sentence to lifetime incarceration and service to repay "burdens" imposed on individuals, society, and humanity. Still, she is in good company, the Chinese have evolved from the Great Leap to one-child to selective-child (i.e. shared/delegated responsibility) in darkness, behind a wall, a the Twilight Fringe, and announcements of their capital abortions.

Jeff Weimer said...

I'm not disagreeing with you Gahrie, I'm only saying that the USSC effectively banned it for a time.

mockturtle said...

As a young woman in Seattle during Ted Bundy's reign of terror I can say without equivocation that most of us were delighted when this monster was finally--finally!--executed.

mockturtle said...

FranciscoD: It probably breaks more along Catholic vs. non-Catholic lines.

stephen cooper said...

Helen Prejean is not a kind person.

stephen cooper said...

Nor is she a credit to her religious order. She has had many opportunities to express real compassion for the victims of the evil people she champions - the victims being those who were murdered, the families of the murdered, and the friends of the murdered.

Many people remember the cruel nuns of their childhood, poor Ms. Prejean is just the SJW version of those cruel and evil-doing people.

stephen cooper said...

Her failure to stand up for the victims of abortion is something that she should be ashamed of. But she does not appear to have the capacity to repent. Pray for the poor little creature!

stephen cooper said...

And if you care, pray for poor Bergoglio, who has to date just been a bad man on the philosophical level, but recently, in a great access of cold sinfulness, lied (by omission) about the fact that many children were killed in the research for the current coronavirus vaccines, and, on the physical level, took a physical jab in the arm to confirm his lack of decency, and in a clearly evil exhibit of elder abuse, implicated poor senile Ratzinger in his sinful embrace of that evil.

Mark said...

Well, as you are always so quick to tell others -- God loves Sister Helen.

So show her some respect stephen cooper and stop being an ass.

Mark said...

Well, you had to get in another insult, didn't you? So I will repeat, stop being an ass.

stephen cooper said...

God loves her and God wants Ms. Prejean, who is a disgrace to her order, to repent.

Don't use vulgarity , Mark , you are better than that , and you know I want the poor old woman to repent. What good does it do her to smile at abortionists and to frown in a condescending way at the victims of the murderers she claims to care about????

stephen cooper said...

Do you know how many people pray for people I ask them to pray for?

Maybe zero, Mark.

I don't care I will still ask.

stephen cooper said...

Please feel free to have the last word, I don't do back-and-forths anymore.

Gahrie said...

I am getting the strong sense that opinions on capital punishment do not break along traditional right-left lines.

They actually do. Although people on the Right and people on the Left both end up opposed to the death penalty, they get there by vastly different routes.

Mark said...

You know what cooper, you don't want profanity? Having seen the real you -- Just go fuck yourself. You bigoted fraud.

NCMoss said...

Murderers serving a life term can (and have) become elevated into celebrity status; it seems wrong to give them that opportunity.

stephen cooper said...

I know I said I was not gonna reply but ffs Mark, I gotta say, I admire your passion.

Jeff Weimer said...

Achillles said...

I think our current system of justice for murderers is really stupid.

I will not defend any part of it.


It has been manipulated to be this way to make you feel that way.

Achilles said...

mockturtle said...

As a young woman in Seattle during Ted Bundy's reign of terror I can say without equivocation that most of us were delighted when this monster was finally--finally!--executed.

He should have been killed by one of his victims.

Lions. Not Sheep.

Ken B said...

Well, the issue isn’t whether they deserve it. Ted Bundy deserved it, lots of killers do. There are a lot of other issues though.

I think there is a distinction between the death penalty and executions as well. There is a symbolic importance to the death penalty. Executions have a different symbolism.
And for the idiots, they are correlated but not the same. You can decide to prevent suicides on death row or not for example, or commute death sentences.

Tina Trent said...

Sister Helen Prejean is an attention-seeking sadist. She tortures the families of murder victims. In the movie Susan Sarandon made, she and Prejean lies about the crimes and stalked the one survivor, who is wheelchair-bound. In the movie they kill him off because it’s convenient. The raped-and-tortured-and murdered girl’s family were brutalized by the film, the misrepresentation of the crime, and the rank misrepresentation of the murderer’s remorse. He expressed no remorse: it was invented so Prejean could be depicted as some sort of savior figure. She’s done the same to other victims’ families. Although it was fitting for the ghoul Sarandon, who named her baby after the man she helped free, who then killed again — after the second murder she named the baby — to play that ghoul Prejean. What a pair of animals.

daskol said...

She's a death-row groupie. Turns out there are enough women out there for condemned killers to have a bevy each to himself, if interested.

AndyN said...

In her last case as an appellate judge that was heard by the USSC, all 9 justices disagreed with her ruling. Even the leftists, who agreed with her outcome, wrote in their opinions that her reasoning was wrong. She was, and is, nothing more than a rubber stamp for leftist doctrine who was appointed solely because she had the correct genitalia and skin color, and could be counted on to always agree with the other leftists on the court. That she's now written another opinion that is just leftist propaganda is the epitome of a dog bites man story.

Tina Trent said...

I wrote about Prejean once and heard from some of the family survivors she stalked and abused. Helen Prejean has done unbelievably inhumane things in her efforts to erase from public view the suffering of victims and victims’ families. And we live in such a sick culture that she gets awards and praise for lying about dead and dying crime victims, torturing mothers who have lost their children, and getting off on publicly rubbing noses with the worst of the worst offenders.

When I was researching her, one of her assistants contacted me and smarmily said she and Prejean were praying — for me. That puts me in some company. I asked the assistant a question I often ask criminal fetishists: if prison is so horrible and so inhumane, then why do people like you and the ACLU types always fetishize the really sicko torture-killers and famous political sociopaths instead of ministering to the many anonymous little people serving sentences for lesser crimes?

She wouldn’t answer. You don’t get Hollywood swag bags for telling the truth about that one. Sotomayor’s behavior was evil, pure evil. She, like Prejean, disappeared the real victims. Maybe she’ll mourn the Nuremberg defendants in her next ignorant dirge.

mockturtle said...

Achilles suggests: He should have been killed by one of his victims.

Well, they were dead, so there's that. :-(

stephen cooper said...

Tina, thanks for your contribution.

Greg The Class Traitor said...

"Justice Sotomayor opens her dissent in U.S. v. Dustin Higgs by saying the names of every person executed by the federal government over the past year."

It's a shame her dissent was so short. 200 names would be so much better than 13.

Greg The Class Traitor said...

The Court has even intervened to lift stays of execution that lower courts put in place

Oh, the horror! The Supreme Court has reversed a lower court!

The Court made these weighty decisions in response to emergency applications, with little opportunity for proper briefing and consideration, often in just a few short days or even hours.

That's ok. All the appeals were garbage, anyway.

Every single one of those creatures was on death row during the Obama Admin, no? They had their time, they had their chance. They were guilty, and deserved to die. Now they are dead.

Good riddance.


Very few of these decisions offered any public explanation for their rationale.

That's because for some reason the justices are too polite to say "this is stupid trash. STFU and stop legislating from the bench"

This is not justice.

Unelected and unaccountable "judges" and "Justices" clogging up the wheels of justice to push their own personal political desires is the exact opposite of justice.

It's what Sotomayor and the other black robed thugs have been doing to the death penalty for decades.

Stopping them is exactly what justice looks like