Various thoughts on current events with an emphasis on politics, legal issues, sports, and whatever is on my mind. Emails can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org; please put "blog comments" in the subject line.
The USSC denied and granted stays of executions, both not very sympathetic characters in various respects. Justice Breyer would have granted one stay (probably per his opposition to executions for those on death row for decades) to the one relying mainly on mental health issues. That one being "a Florida death row inmate convicted in 1978 for his role in eight murders on two separate occasions." Real bad people are involved here, but even the sympathetic might accept his execution.
The one that obtained temporary relief is a cop killer. He lost in the past in an unanimous per curiam. Someone who is notable for an eighteen month total murder to execution time (and one of the single digit executions over the last century in the state) killed while trying to escape. The latter is definitely one of those "what about if the woman was raped" sort of cases though several states have no death penalty along with most countries (Japan is an exception) that do not have exceptions. The death penalty can be like torture -- even the "hard cases" does not justify it.
The death penalty in action has various problems and they apply to the "hard cases" too. Three people were executed by the federal government since 1963, including Timothy McVeigh, someone who murdered a servicewoman and a drug kingpin (for some reason, the USSC listed this as an "offense against the State"), though something like 50 are on death row. Let's say the first half of that period. Were no really heinous crimes involved or even murders of prison personnel? Take even McVeigh. Someone was convicted of aiding him. No death penalty. And, heinous crimes still can involve various issues (such as the denial here) that means a death sentence is not warranted. Many places survive without it.
Still, and some of the USSC opinions* striking down death sentences or mandatory life imprisonment for minors do not avoid this, we are deal with some really horrible stuff here. I don't think killing people with needles is the way to handle it, but realize we are not just dealing with some troubled person who killed someone in a robbery or something. Not trivial in itself. We are talking some really horrible crimes and situations.
* Take Kennedy v. Louisiana, involving rape of a child:
Petitioner’s crime was one that cannot be recounted in these pages in
a way sufficient to capture in full the hurt and horror inflicted on
his victim or to convey the revulsion society, and the jury that
represents it, sought to express by sentencing petitioner to death.
Justice Kagan also spelled out the crime in a case that required individualized sentencing for minors, even for homicides. Some death penalty supporters imply otherwise, shoving facts in your face as if you don't realize what these people did.