If the death penalty is unconstitutionally wanton and freakish, then what about Lady Gaga? A profound, if unanswered question that Stephen Colbert raised last night as he lamented the decline of capital punishment in the US, blaming “juries and prosecutors” and CSI-Miami. He declared his belief that the death penalty is a deterrent, in that it deters him from hunting his interns for sport “in America.”
Colbert also took on Justice Scalia’s recent infamous dissent in the Troy Davis case, where Scalia stated flatly that there is no problem with execution someone who is “actually” innocent. “Executing the innocent may be cruel, but as long as Scalia is on the bench, it will not be unusual.” A (typically) weird interview with Barry Scheck of The Innocence Project followed.
As for Troy Davis, he is still waiting for the scheduling of the evidentiary hearing the Supreme Court granted him, over the objections of Scalia and his cohort Clarence Thomas.
Bob Barr thinks so. In his Washington Times op-ed, the former federal prosecutor, Georgia Congressman and Libertarian Presidential candidate, labels Scalia the “high court curmudgeon” for his dissent from the Supreme Court’s order giving Troy Davis to have an evidentiary hearing on his substantial evidence of innocence.
Scalia believes, simply, that the Constitution doesn’t protect the innocent from being executed. Barr believes that it does.
“The Constitution of the United States was adopted in 1787; the Bill of Rights four years later in 1791. Apparently for Justice Scalia, these past 218 years have not sufficed to “clearly establish” that federal law is based on the premise that only the guilty are to be executed.”
Bob Barr was instrumental in the passage of the Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) back in 1996, and has clearly been perturbed by the way that law has been interpreted to prevent what justice plainly requires in this case:
“… a full hearing at which the witnesses Davis believes will show his actual innocence are allowed to testify.” And at which “… the state of Georgia will have full opportunity to rebut that testimony.”
The “pinched and erroneous” interpretations of AEDPA by cantankerous old judges like Scalia ignore the fundamental basis for law and justice, which is to punish the guilty and protect the innocent.