Wednesday, April 16, 2008


The Supreme Court Rules on Protocols

Today the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in the Baze v. Rees case upholding Kentucky's lethal injection protocols as constitutional in a 7 to 2 vote. Chief Justice Roberts, joined by Justice Kennedy and Justice Alito, affirmed that "because some risk of pain is inherent in even the most humane execution method, if only from the prospect of error in following the required procedure, the Constitution does not demand the avoidance of all risk of pain."

However, what the Court did not address in this ruling are the continued problems with fairness, bias, ineffective assistance of counsel, or wrongful conviction concerning the death penalty. These and other issues continue to plague the death penalty system though the door has now been opened for executions to resume.

Diann Rust-Tierney, Executive Director of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, upon the Court ruling stated, "Now with the resumption of executions, we renew our commitment to discuss the critical issues surrounding the death penalty system. Since the last person was executed--on September 24, 2007--we have seen a number of remarkable events. Four names have been added to the list of people freed from death row after evidence of their innocence emerged, bringing that number to at least 128. New Jersey has abolished the death penalty. Nebraska has no effective death penalty after its Supreme Court ruled the electric chair unconstitutional. The American Bar Association has called for a nationwide moratorium on the executions. And, the United Nations, reflecting evolving trends around the globe, has voted for a worldwide moratorium. And that's just in seven months."

Rust-Tierney concluded her stated by saying, "It seems that the more we learn about the death penalty, the more we learn we can live without it." Diann, I couldn't have said it better myself.
Comments :
From the NY Times article covering this story,,

"Perhaps most interestingly, Justice Stevens filed an opinion concurring in the judgment of the court, but turning against capital punishment itself. Indeed, he asserted that recent decisions by state legislatures, Congress and the Supreme Court itself to preserve the death penalty “are the product of habit and inattention rather than an acceptable deliberative process that weighs the costs and risks” of the ultimate punishment."
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