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December 02, 2009

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Court Comments on Constitutionality of Death Row Delay: Lyle Denniston writes on SCOTUSblog that about an hour before Cecil C. Johnson, 53, was put to death by lethal injection today, Justices Stevens and Breyer commented on what Justice Stevens called... [Read More]

Comments

Joe

Stevens argues that the state is largely to blame for the delay and rests his views on a certain interpretation of the Constitution. Some reference was made to foreign law but only to serve as an example.

Thomas talks past him -- the litigant in his view is trying to game the system and since the Constitution doesn't apply, foreign law and policy is what Stevens allegedly rests on.

You can debate Stevens' constitutional analysis, and Thomas is the last one to oppose lone wolf appeals in that regard, but his annoyance rests on more than substantive disagreements, and on that ground is unconvincing.

The constitutional debate to me goes Stevens' way, but that surely can be debated. Oh, and Stevens notes there is clear evidence of doubt. This might not be enough to constitutionally overturn the sentence, but (even beyond families who oppose eye for an eye) it tempers Bill R's remarks some.

GayDude

I have to side with Justice Thomas on this one. It's clear that some on the Court hate the DP and will make up any excuse to overturn such a sentence or grant a stay. They don't have the votes to declare it in violation of the 8th Amendment, so they have to get creative. Oh, and by making its administration more and more difficult, their hope is that the states will eventually just give up. Once enough states have done so, they can get Justice Kennedy to go along with striking it down once and for all. It's so clear and so pathetic.

Oh, and every justice has gotten a bit personal in an opinion at one time or the other. (Yes, that includes Justice Stevens.)

anon4utu

I agree with Mr. Facciolo. Shouldn't our first concern, so long as we adhere to a death penalty, to ensure that all procedural mechanisms have been exhausted fully so that we don't execute, ever, an innocent? Thomas' opinion reminds me of the the Lord Judge, played by Harry Andrews in the movie, "The Ruling Class."

David JJ Facciolo, Esquire

Clarence Thomas’ remarks are an embarrassment. He would execute a clearly innocent person and find no violation of of substantive due process if he thought enough procedures were exhausted and has concurred with exactly that sentiment in the past. He wants to shut the door on remedies for all except those whose interests he favors.

His personal attack on Stevens in this case would be unbecoming even if there were a remote element of truth to it, which there isn’t.

Like Scalia he is often uncivil, uncouth and radically conservative and hence not a good constitutionalist or a good example of a judge with proper temperament.

BillR.

Kudos to Justice Thomas. Why doesn't Justice Stevens go speak to the families of the three murder victims and discuss "cruel and unusual punishment."

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