Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Flipping off justice

One of our Supreme Court justices apparently believes that being innocent shouldn't necessarily save someone from being executed for a crime.

In a decision released yesterday the high court ruled that evidence in a murder case should be reexamined because new and potentially exculpatory evidence has surfaced -- including seven witnesses who have recanted their testimony.

Know-it-all bonehead Justice Antonin Scalia, and his idiot soulmate Justice Clarence Thomas, dissented from the majority. Scalia wrote:
This court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is "actually" innocent.
The conservative super-duo seems to think that facts are irrelevant, that people's lives are expendable and that sticking to their interpretation of the law trumps everything else. This is exactly what President Obama meant when he said he wanted to appoint someone with real-life empathy on the Supreme Court.


N.starluna said...

I first saw this as classic Scalia. He espouses an extreme view of legal formalism, which prioritizes process over substance. This view of the law prefers injustice under law to justice which might be interpreted as the product of discretion (or empathy, or in this case, facts).

At the same time, Scalia is not afraid to use discretion when it suits him (because he is a hypocrite). There have been many cases in which Scalia put aside his extreme formalist view of the law in order to support a preferred outcome, many of these cases involving abortion.

Alan Dershowitz recently asserted that Scalia's argument that innocent people can be executed under our Constitution not only wrong but also a betrayal to Catholic doctrine. Scalia has publicly stated that he would have to resign if the Constitution forced him to do something that was absolutely prohibited by Catholic teachings, which is why he always come to the same conclusions in abortion cases.

Dershowitz's response: "But whatever the view of the church is on executing the guilty, surely it is among the worst sins, under Catholic teaching, to kill an innocent human being intentionally. Yet that is precisely what Scalia would authorize under his skewed view of the United States Constitution. How could he possibly consider that not immoral under Catholic teachings? If it is immoral to kill an innocent fetus, how could it not be immoral to execute an innocent person?"


Anonymous said...

Perhaps we should try Scalia and Thomas for murder and sentence them to death...did they commit murder? No. But that's immaterial.

Sheesh...what is up with these nutjobs?

Anonymous said...

I beleive he is concern as to where does it end. The precedent set might have unimaginable conseguences. Not trying to defend, just a thought.

N.starluna said...

Anonymous @ 5:16: are you implying there is a slippery slope to the principle that innocent people should not be executed?

The legal issue in the case was: if someone who was convicted properly (meaning no shenanigans by the court or the prosecution) but new evidence not available at the time of prosecution shows that the person is in fact not guilty, should that person get a new trial?

Under what circumstances can this end badly?

I think the only legal problem is how to resolve the holding in this case with the decision made in a previous case decided just 2 months ago in which the Supreme Court held that prisoners do not have a right to access DNA evidence that might exonerate them. So, if you had access to evidence that could show your lack of guilt, you can get a new trial. But you do not have a right to access certain kinds of evidence.

You should know that Massachusetts is one of three states (along with Alaska and Oklahoma)that does not provide legal access to DNA evidence. If you ask for it, you may or may not get it.