Bowing to intense political pressure, Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma, Republican governor of one of the country’s redder states, on Thursday commuted the death sentence for convicted murderer Julius Jones.
Governor Stitt’s switching of Mr Jones, who was convicted of first degree carjacking murder in one of the most pro-death penalty states, is just the latest disturbing piece of news indicating a possible definitive abolition of the death penalty in America.
In 2020, former President Donald Trump ordered then Attorney General William Barr to resume federal executions after a 17-year hiatus. From July 2020 to January 2021, the Trump-led Justice Department oversaw 13 executions. The first to be executed during this period, Daniel Lewis Lee, robbed a family and, as the Department of Justice website reported at the time, “covered his head with bags of plastic, sealed the bags with duct tape, weighed down each victim with stones, and threw the family of three into the Illinois bayou.
The last executed man, Dustin Higgs, was convicted of directing the murders of three women at a wildlife sanctuary. He died unrepentant.
But in July, President Joe Biden ordered Attorney General Merrick Garland to once again suspend federal executions. “The Department of Justice must ensure that all members of the federal criminal justice system are not only granted the rights guaranteed by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, but are also treated in a fair and humane manner,” said Mr. Garland at the time. Innocent unborn children, of course, don’t need to apply.
Since then, Biden’s Justice Department has advocated for the reinstatement of the death penalty for 2013 Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who represents the paradigmatic case of capital punishment. But it defies common sense to think that Mr. Tsarnaev might actually meet his creator under Uncle Joe.
In June, as the administration unveiled its plan to resume the federal moratorium on executions, White House spokesman Andrew Bates said President Biden felt the Justice Department should “not proceed. at runtime”. Bates added that Mr. Biden “has made it clear that he is deeply concerned about the compliance of the death penalty with the core values of our sense of justice and fairness.” Put simply, there is no world in which the Biden-led Justice Department crosses paths with the president on such a politically sensitive issue.
We know for sure that some members of the United States Supreme Court agree with President Biden.
In the case of Glossip v. Gross in 2015, a 5-4 split court upheld the constitutionality of using midazolam in a “cocktail” to execute prisoners duly convicted of an offense punishable by death. The fact that many states – in the case of Glossip, Okla. – being forced to resort to “cocktails” is in itself disturbing, testifying to a concerted effort by pharmaceutical companies to avoid any possible complicity with the ultimate form of punishment.
In his Glossip dissent, Judge Stephen Breyer, joined by the late Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, argued that the practice of the death penalty itself is unconstitutional.
Judge Sonia Sotomayor filed a separate dissent, but this suggests that she and Judge Elena Kagan would not join Judge Breyer if the issue of the constitutionality of the whole practice was resolved for the court.
The death penalty remains popular, in general: In 2020, Gallup reported that Americans were in favor of retaining the death penalty for convicted murderers by a range of 55% to 43%. But that support has dropped significantly from the 80-16% margin Gallup found on the same issue in 1994. Moreover, it is unfortunate that the death penalty is now only discussed in the context of convicted murderers. Even child rapists are no longer eligible for the death penalty, thanks to the court’s deeply flawed 2008 ruling, Kennedy v. Louisiana.
For all the hifalutin, high-rhetoric liberals invariably fear when it comes to the alleged need to erect insurmountable safeguards around capital punishment, the fact remains that it is our law and our long tradition that the worst of the worst in society should face the ultimate punishment. And this tradition is morally sound, rooted in Leviticus 24: 19-20: “And a man who inflicts a wound on his neighbor as he has done, it will be done to him (namely, broken for broken, eye for eye) , tooth for tooth. As he inflicted a wound on a person, so it will be inflicted on him. ”
Where is the compassion of the left for the victims of the worst crimes known to mankind?
There are certain crimes for which even life imprisonment without parole is simply not enough. If the classic definition of justice is to reward good and punish evil, then there is no more righteous act par excellence than to execute murderers. Hopefully, Governor Stitt’s switching of Mr. Jones doesn’t drag America further down the wrong – and unfair – path.
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