Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Scalia v. Dershowitz

Unbelievably, a US Supreme Court Justice actually said the other day that a person on death row after a "fair" trial who quite possibly is innocent can be executed even if he or she can prove innocence. That justice, no surprise, is Antonin Scalia -- certainly the wittiest justice in writing opinions assigned to him but also completely ass backwards on the principle of due process. And, get this -- he's a Roman Catholic, as the majority of justices are. In fact, the other dissenter was Clarence Thomas, another Catholic!

Here's the money quote:

This court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is ‘actually’ innocent. Quite to the contrary, we have repeatedly left that question unresolved, while expressing considerable doubt that any claim based on alleged ‘actual innocence’ is constitutionally cognizable.

Needless to say, many have slammed this, including no less than Al Dershowitz, who is Jewish but certainly knows more about what it means to be Catholic, if you believe his op-ed piece in the Daily Beast.

Paul Campos, also at DB, writes his own opinion about what he thinks about Scalia.

Not surprisingly, Scalia got a stern rebuke from the Court's dean, John Paul Stevens, as you can read here in his order (the vote was 6-2) ordering the Federal Court for Southern Georgia to review the habeas petition of the man in question, Troy Anthony Davis, who is supported by no less than 27 former prosecutors and judges. Stevens, I note as well, also granted the petiton of numerous people supporting Davis to file amici curiae (friends of the court) briefs to everyone who asked for leave to do so, including no less than the maniacal Bob Barr (yes, that one!).

The death penalty is never fair, which is why I have personally opposed it since I was fourteen and I will until I die.

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