Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Murder by Death Penalty

Posted by on Tue, May 15, 2012 at 3:03 PM

Can you tell these men apart? Neither could the death penalty.
  • thewrongcarlos.net
  • Can you tell these men apart? Neither could the death penalty.

Surprise, surprise—people, who are fallible, can apparently make mistakes when they kill other people for killing people. And the case in Texas reported on here is just terrible. Take it away, Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia:

A few years ago, Antonin Scalia, one of the nine justices on the US supreme court, made a bold statement. There has not been, he said, "a single case – not one – in which it is clear that a person was executed for a crime he did not commit. If such an event had occurred … the innocent's name would be shouted from the rooftops."

Start shouting, people, and check out the amazing, exhaustive work done by the Columbia Human Rights Law Review on the anatomy of a wrongful execution.

Is it possible that only this one innocent man has been killed? Snowball's chance in hell. Humans can't even get an eye for an eye right. The death penalty is unconscionable hubris.


Comments (13) RSS

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treacle 1
I'm rather stunned that Scalia would have said such a thing. Not because I think anything of Scalia himself - but that a Supreme Court Justice should surely know better.
Posted by treacle on May 15, 2012 at 3:09 PM · Report this
balderdash 2
@1, Scalia has demonstrated over and over, in his own words, that he either never learned a damn thing in law school, or that he's long since forgotten it, or as I suppose is most likely, he just hasn't given a single solitary fuck about the law or his responsibilities since he got himself onto the Supreme Court.

His public statements over the years have been impressively diverse, from stating that American citizens accused of terrorism have no rights to legal protection whatsoever, to flat-out advocating ignoring the Establishment Clause. By all rights any one of those statements, all in direct contradiction to the American law he's supposed to be upholding, ought to be grounds for removal from the bench under the "good conduct" clause of his office, and yet he remains.

Anyway, I guess what I'm saying is that this is hardly a surprise, from him. When he made this particular comment, most of the facts of these cases in Texas were already known, and he can't have been completely ignorant unless it was entirely willful.

As regards the topic, I can't really see this changing so long as capital punishment remains a decision of the states instead of the Federal government. Some states simply have a majority of conservative voters in whose Biblically-informed opinion it is better to risk executing a few innocent men than to potentially let a guilty man escape vengeance. Texas is definitely one of those. A lot of Texans still nostalgically think of justice in terms of horse thieves and Roy Bean and long for the simplicity and "purity" of hanging bad men, but those attitudes just don't work in a modern environment.
Posted by balderdash http://introverse.blogspot.com on May 15, 2012 at 3:20 PM · Report this
Fnarf 3
Todd Cameron Willingham.

Carlos DeLuna.

Troy Davis.

At least a hundred men on death rows have been exonerated, sometimes after 30 years. Of COURSE we have executed innocent men, and do so frequently and with impunity.

But then, a lot of Texans and other meatheads like it that way. Remember what the fellow said about Rick Perry? "It takes balls to execute an innocent man". With a big ol' juicy leer. We LOVE punishing the innocent. What difference does it make anyways, as long as someone gets punished for something?
Posted by Fnarf http://www.facebook.com/fnarf on May 15, 2012 at 3:40 PM · Report this
Bethany, if you haven't read about the Cameron Todd Willingham case, I suggest that you do so. A very probable 2nd innocent man executed. Also in Texas, naturally.
Posted by JenV on May 15, 2012 at 3:46 PM · Report this
Like Lord Vetinari says: if you have crime you must have punishment. If the guilty man gets punished, that's just a happy accident.
Posted by NateMan on May 15, 2012 at 4:15 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 6
Scalia wouldn't know Truth if it fell on his head and knocked him to the ground.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on May 15, 2012 at 4:21 PM · Report this
blip 7
What a fucking dickhead.
Posted by blip on May 15, 2012 at 4:31 PM · Report this
Mind you Obama and the Democratic Party also support the death penalty. They even support it for people who haven't been given trials, so long as they're far enough away from the U.S. that the bombs we use to execute them don't kill any untargeted Americans.
Posted by LJM on May 15, 2012 at 4:40 PM · Report this
Westlake, son! 9
Wait, I thought Republicans disliked death panels?
Posted by Westlake, son! on May 15, 2012 at 5:00 PM · Report this
Zebes 10

Oh, well, that excuses any death row shenanigans in Texas, then. Nevermind, folks!
Posted by Zebes http://www.badrap.org/rescue/index.html on May 15, 2012 at 6:12 PM · Report this
OuterCow 11
@8 But wasn't Anwar al-Awlaki's kid an unintentionally murdered American citizen?
Posted by OuterCow on May 15, 2012 at 7:57 PM · Report this
How odd that only some of the people we strap down and kill in a cold, premeditated fashion are viewed as being murdered. They're all murdered. That some people think they have justification is beside the point.
Posted by Mr. J on May 16, 2012 at 3:57 AM · Report this
Scalia seems to be falling into the rabbit hole that unless you are exonerated in court, you must certainly be guilty. Dead people can't get an appeals hearing, ergo, everyone executed is guilty.

Furthermore, Scalia is following in the execution-lovin' footsteps of his friend William Rehnquist, who ruled in Herrera v Collins that a claim of innocence based on new evidence was not enough grounds for habeas relief and a new trial.
"District Court would presumably be required to grant a conditional order of relief, which would in effect require the State to retry petitioner 10 years after his first trial, not because of any constitutional violation which had occurred at the first trial, but simply because of a belief that in light of petitioner's new-found evidence a jury might find him not guilty at a second trial," Rehnquist sniffed disapprovingly in his ruling. Can't be re-trying someone just because we may now be able to show that he is innocent. Off with his head!
Posted by fruitbat on May 16, 2012 at 8:33 AM · Report this

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