Friday, September 25, 2015

Is the Death Penalty Unconstitutional?

...Breyer is hardly the first Supreme Court justice to invite constitutional debate about the death penalty. Several members of the Court that brought back the death penalty in 1976 later came to reject it. Nixon appointee Lewis Powell told his biographer that the death penalty should be abolished. Another Nixon appointee, Harry Blackmun, wrote in 1994 that he would no longer “tinker with the machinery of death.” And in 2008, John Paul Stevens wrote that his review of hundreds of cases had persuaded him that the penalty is both profoundly unworkable and unconstitutional.   What has Breyer learned to put him in such company? Plenty. In his dissent, he argued that the death penalty is seriously unreliable and arbitrary in application; he believes the long delays undermine its penological purpose; and he is convinced that we have executed the innocent.


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