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Scalia and Thomas on the death penalty


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Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas of the US Supreme Court have just signed a dissenting opinion stating, in effect, that a person who proves himself innocent after having been convicted, has no right not to be executed. This is how far right and how extreme the radical right has become. As the linked story points out, this is not only a betrayal of common sense but a betrayal of the Catholic religion both of these men claim to believe in. http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-sto...holic-betrayal/

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Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas of the US Supreme Court have just signed a dissenting opinion stating, in effect, that a person who proves himself innocent after having been convicted, has no right not to be executed. This is how far right and how extreme the radical right has become. As the linked story points out, this is not only a betrayal of common sense but a betrayal of the Catholic religion both of these men claim to believe in. http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-sto...holic-betrayal/

So, did you read the ACTUAL Dissen5t in it's entirety, or just the quote in the article???

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Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas of the US Supreme Court have just signed a dissenting opinion stating, in effect, that a person who proves himself innocent after having been convicted, has no right not to be executed. This is how far right and how extreme the radical right has become. As the linked story points out, this is not only a betrayal of common sense but a betrayal of the Catholic religion both of these men claim to believe in. http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-sto...holic-betrayal/

Don't believe everything you read, idiot.

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Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas of the US Supreme Court have just signed a dissenting opinion stating, in effect, that a person who proves himself innocent after having been convicted, has no right not to be executed. This is how far right and how extreme the radical right has become. As the linked story points out, this is not only a betrayal of common sense but a betrayal of the Catholic religion both of these men claim to believe in. http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-sto...holic-betrayal/

There's a big difference between a judgement about what the law is, and a judgement about what it should be. I seriously doubt that Scalia or Thomas would advocate carrying out executions of people who have proven innocent. But if they do not believe that the Constitution provides such a protection, they should not pretend that it does. I don't know whether Scalia and Thomas's stance on this is correct. Since it's a dissenting opinion, obviously other justices disagree with them. But, correct or incorrect, I see no reason at all to think that this is anything other than their reasoned analysis of what the law is.

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The law has no credibility if it is blind to affirmative proof of innocence. Here is Scalia’s statement, quoted verbatim. “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.” He's saying that the Constitution does not recognize actual proof of innocence, that the prisoner can be executed anyway. That is a shocking statement, especially since it comes from a Justice on the US Supreme Court.

Antonin Scalia is more than sophisticated enough to understand the meaning of precise language in a legal opinion. Prof. Dershowitz has properly called him on this.

The majority ruling can be read here: http://www.scotusblog.com/wp/wp-content/up...order-Davis.pdf

Here is Scalia’s dissent in its entirety: http://www.scotusblog.com/wp/wp-content/up...-opin-Davis.pdf

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Scalia's comment reflects an insensitivity to the importance of innocence. It suggests that he doesn't care whether a prisoner is innocent, as long as he was previously found guilty. Apparently, in the case at issue, the defendant has already lost on several habeas corpus petitions. The problem here is Scalia's statement, not necessarily the outcome of this case.

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Guest 2smart4u
There's a big difference between a judgement about what the law is, and a judgement about what it should be. I seriously doubt that Scalia or Thomas would advocate carrying out executions of people who have proven innocent. But if they do not believe that the Constitution provides such a protection, they should not pretend that it does. I don't know whether Scalia and Thomas's stance on this is correct. Since it's a dissenting opinion, obviously other justices disagree with them. But, correct or incorrect, I see no reason at all to think that this is anything other than their reasoned analysis of what the law is.

You're exactly right. The law as written does not provide explicit recourse in that situation, which is what Scalia and Thomas were explaining. Common sense would of course prevail in a case such as that.

But as usual the Loonies will, in their infinite stupidity and lack of common sense, find a different explanation. These are also the people who voted for the community organizer (as if there were a need for further proof).

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There's a big difference between a judgement about what the law is, and a judgement about what it should be. I seriously doubt that Scalia or Thomas would advocate carrying out executions of people who have proven innocent.

Maybe they wouldn't, but they will not be on the bench forever. Their ill-chosen words can now be used by future justices to change interpretations of law that date back to the earliest days of western jurisprudence. If they did not mean that, then they should not have written that. Their words and the poor legal reasoning behind them are the problems here. Consider the following.

The US Constitution is also silent about the specific precondition for criminal punishment. Article III, Section 2 provides for trial by jury and the Fifth Amendment for due process. These apply to the states via the Fourteenth Amendment. http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html

But nothing in the Constitution says that a conviction is a precondition to criminal punishment, including execution. Are the current Justices now free to ignore centuries of legal precedent and hold that people may be legally executed by the State without being convicted of any crime? Nothing in the Constitution explicitly says otherwise. All the Constitution guarantees are "due process" and a jury trial. It doesn't say anything about a verdict being mandatory, or what the standard for a decision must be. If you ignore our legal history, as Scalia and Thomas have just done, it could mean that a person is entitled to a hearing before he is hung; many so-called legal systems have operated in exactly that way.

The concept of what it takes to convict someone (proof beyond a reasonable doubt) is so firmly established in our jurisprudence that it need not be mentioned in a document like the US Constitution; it is already understood. The Founders did not mention it because they presumed mention was not required. The Constitution’s silence on a matter like this demonstrates its centrality to our legal system, not that its authority is dubious. Justice Stevens appears to have been drawing on this when he writes: “But imagine a petitioner in Davis’s situation who possesses new evidence conclusively and definitively proving, beyond any scintilla of doubt, that he is an innocent man. The dissent’s reasoning would allow such a petitioner to be put to death nonetheless.”

The idea that a person who proves his innocence is entitled to be set free is fundamental to our concept of justice. For Scalia and Thomas to push principle aside just because the Constitution does not explicitly say it only verifies the extent of their radicalism, their inability to control or perhaps even be aware of their own biases, and their disdain for individual rights in criminal cases.

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Guest 2smart4u
Maybe they wouldn't, but they will not be on the bench forever. Their ill-chosen words can now be used by future justices to change interpretations of law that date back to the earliest days of western jurisprudence. If they did not mean that, then they should not have written that. Their words and the poor legal reasoning behind them are the problems here. Consider the following.

The US Constitution is also silent about the specific precondition for criminal punishment. Article III, Section 2 provides for trial by jury and the Fifth Amendment for due process. These apply to the states via the Fourteenth Amendment. http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html

But nothing in the Constitution says that a conviction is a precondition to criminal punishment, including execution. Are the current Justices now free to ignore centuries of legal precedent and hold that people may be legally executed by the State without being convicted of any crime? Nothing in the Constitution explicitly says otherwise. All the Constitution guarantees is "due process." If you ignore our legal history, as Scalia and Thomas have just done, that could mean that a person is entitled to a hearing before he is hung; many so-called legal systems have operated in exactly that way.

The concept of what it takes to convict someone (proof beyond a reasonable doubt) is so firmly established in our jurisprudence that it need not be mentioned in a document like the US Constitution; it is already understood. The Founders did not mention it because they presumed mention was not required. The Constitution’s silence on a matter like this demonstrates its centrality to our legal system, not that its authority is dubious. Justice Stevens appears to have been drawing on this when he writes: “But imagine a petitioner in Davis’s situation who possesses new evidence conclusively and definitively proving, beyond any scintilla of doubt, that he is an innocent man. The dissent’s reasoning would allow such a petitioner to be put to death nonetheless.”

The idea that a person who proves his innocence is entitled to be set free is fundamental to our concept of justice. For Scalia and Thomas to push principle aside just because the Constitution does not explicitly say it only verifies the extent of their radicalism, their inability to control or perhaps even be aware of their own biases, and their disdain for individual rights in criminal cases.

Thank you Paul, for demonstrating that my previous post was right on the mark. Loonies, in their paranoia find an evil republican behind every tree and envision innocent people being dragged off to the gallows because of an omission in the Constitution.

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Thank you Paul, for demonstrating that my previous post was right on the mark. Loonies, in their paranoia find an evil republican behind every tree and envision innocent people being dragged off to the gallows because of an omission in the Constitution.

You're just too dumb to zip it.

Do you really think anyone besides some of the other brain dead buffoons take you seriously? You have the social intelligence and knowledge of a spoiled third grader, trying to intellectually compete against some like Paul.

Give it up. You're a bitter shallow loser, you will always be a loser and you will die a loser. And you proudly revel in publicly shouting out your ignorance and stupidity.

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Guest 2smart4u
You're just too dumb to zip it.

Do you really think anyone besides some of the other brain dead buffoons take you seriously? You have the social intelligence and knowledge of a spoiled third grader, trying to intellectually compete against some like Paul.

Give it up. You're a bitter shallow loser, you will always be a loser and you will die a loser. And you proudly revel in publicly shouting out your ignorance and stupidity.

Is Paul your daddy or are you Paul using Guest as another identity like Kris or Windy City Attorney?

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The idea that a person who proves his innocence is entitled to be set free is fundamental to our concept of justice. For Scalia and Thomas to push principle aside just because the Constitution does not explicitly say it only verifies the extent of their radicalism, their inability to control or perhaps even be aware of their own biases, and their disdain for individual rights in criminal cases.

I don't think the word "explicitly" is needed. "Implicitly" should be good enough, as I believe the purpose of the Constitution is to establish broad principles, not to enumerate the minutiae. I think that the important question is not whether this is explicitly mentioned, but whether it falls within one or more of those broad principles. I don't know the answer to that question, and my point is not to argue it one way or the other. My point is just that the idea that Scalia and Thomas' dissent was based merely on the lack of explicit mention has not been established. It may very well be that they aren't convinced that the constitution covers it at all, explicitly or otherwise.

I'm no fan of Scalia and Thomas. But I think that they just called this as they saw it, and that the backlash over it is shooting the messenger for delivering bad news.

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I don't think the word "explicitly" is needed. "Implicitly" should be good enough, as I believe the purpose of the Constitution is to establish broad principles, not to enumerate the minutiae. I think that the important question is not whether this is explicitly mentioned, but whether it falls within one or more of those broad principles. I don't know the answer to that question, and my point is not to argue it one way or the other. My point is just that the idea that Scalia and Thomas' dissent was based merely on the lack of explicit mention has not been established. It may very well be that they aren't convinced that the constitution covers it at all, explicitly or otherwise.

I'm no fan of Scalia and Thomas. But I think that they just called this as they saw it, and that the backlash over it is shooting the messenger for delivering bad news.

This is what they wrote: "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."

Obviously, if the Constitution explicitly forbade the execution of a convicted defendant who later proves his innocence, Scalia and Thomas would be obligated to follow that. If they believed it implies that, they would be obligated to follow that, too. They don't think the principle in enshrined in the Constitution, either explicitly or implicitly.

They’re not delivering the news: their colleagues don’t agree with them and their view did not prevail. They may believe their view is the law, but to reach that conclusion, they must overlook the meaning and history of our criminal justice system.

If your point is that Scalia and Thomas are not bad men, I’ll grant you that. My point is that their thinking is so distorted that they are doing violence to our legal system, and are so radical that they should never have been placed on the Supreme Court.

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