As uncomfortable as this matter makes us, we refuse to violate our oaths of office and to leave the appellants with no access to the courts.
That’s the Oklahoma Supreme Court, issuing a stay of execution to Clayton Lockett as a result of his challenge (along with another inmate, Charles Warner) to the secrecy surrounding the drugs which the state intends to use to poison him to death.
Here’s a little peek into the macabre and Kafkaesque death penalty system we’ve got going in this country:
Last month, a state district court ruled in the men’s favor on the drug issue, declaring that a 2011 supplier-secrecy law was unconstitutional. The state appealed and has refused to divulge the sources of the three drugs, in a new combination, it intends to use to execute the men. The legal battle over secrecy continues, but the attorney general wanted to proceed with the executions.
The men appealed to the criminal appeals court for a stay, but it refused on the grounds that the men had no pending cases before the court. They then turned to the State Supreme Court, which asserted that it has the ultimate say over jurisdiction issues and was transferring the request back to the criminal court. Last Friday, the criminal appeals court again refused to consider the appeal and pointedly rejected the instruction from the Supreme Court.
But wait there’s more:
The attorney general, Scott Pruitt, filed a motion on Tuesday asking the State Supreme Court to remove the stay, saying it had no jurisdiction over executions and calling the separate case over lethal injection drugs a diversionary tactic by the condemned men ….
Within hours, the Supreme Court, by a vote of 6 to 3, rejected that motion, which called into question the court’s ultimate authority. But then Governor Fallin, a Republican, issued an executive order asserting that Monday’s stay was “outside the constitutional authority” of the Supreme Court. She said she was exercising her own constitutional authority to delay the execution of Mr. Lockett, originally scheduled for Tuesday, by one week.
If anyone has a good reason a) why Lockett and Warner shouldn’t have access to information about the source of the drugs that will be used to kill them, given that a court has already sided with them on the issue, and b) why Oklahoma’s Governor and Attorney General believe the Oklahoma Supreme Court can’t grant a stay of execution while this legal challenge remains unresolved, boy, I’d really like to hear it.
So all of you who’ve been frustrated by your inability to give away more than $123,200 in each election cycle, your day of liberation has arrived.
That’s Alec MacGillis, in his piece “The Stunning Chutzpah of the Supreme Court’s New Elimination of Campaign Contribution Limits.”
All I can say is, “Finally, a Supreme Court ruling for me, the little guy.”
Jonathan Pollard, an American who admitted to spying for Israel in the mid-1980s, would be eligible for parole at the end of 2015. But it’s possible that he could get out of prison sooner if the Israeli government agrees to a series of concessions needed to keep negotiations open with the Palestinians.
There’s a major debate about whether spying for an ally is actually a crime and, of course, a major debate about exactly how damaging to U.S. interests was the information that Pollard passed to Israel. The side on which you find yourself in these debates determines whether you think Pollard should have been imprisoned at all, whether you think he should ever be released, and whether you think he’s some sort of hero or an obvious criminal.
The whole thing is a confusing ordeal until you remember that, when it comes to Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, the one thing on which everyone agrees is that they love finding new ways to free prisoners while accomplishing little else.
Personally, I’m pretty curious to see the discussion this post generates amongst readers of my blog since writing about Jonathan Pollard is generally akin to touching the third rail.
For more information, here is Haaretz’s guide to the perplexed.
Glenn Ford is living proof of just how flawed our justice system truly is. We are moved that Mr. Ford, an African-American man convicted by an all-white jury, will be able to leave death row a survivor.
That’s Amnesty International USA’s Thenjiwe Tameika McHarris, in a statement on the release of Glenn Ford yesterday after nearly 30 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.
Apart from the obvious problem of innocence highlighted by this case, the death penalty more generally is racist, arbitrary, unfair, immoral, and a violation of human rights. It is bad public policy and ought to be abolished in the states that have, to this point, stubbornly maintained it on the misguided belief that vengeance and justice are the same thing.
I’m not sure the death penalty has really been on the national radar since the execution of Troy Davis back in 2011, but I’m pleased to see CNN producing a show on the topic. My hope is that it sparks a conversation about the many ways in which the death penalty is a miserable failure and why our society is better off without it.
Judging from the comments [don’t read the comments!] on the stories on CNN’s website right now, though, I think death penalty opponents are going to need more than an hour-long CNN special report because people who love the death penalty don’t really know much about it, but they definitely know they love it when someone gets executed and they don’t much care about anything beyond that.
Well, this has occasioned a whole lot more discussion than I’d anticipated (especially given how little anyone said about yesterday’s post on the very same topic) …
But, seriously, we all know the whole religious freedom argument is just an attempt at an end run around all manner of anti-discrimination laws and court cases, right?
Florida: Where the Stand Your Ground law will always agree that a white guy had a good reason to murder a black teenager.
Seems like this guy would’ve been in the clear if he’d managed to kill everyone in the car since the jury couldn’t decide on the one murder charge but had no trouble with all the attempted murder charges.
The whole situation is so incredibly disturbing for so many reasons. Not the least of which is how often this kind of thing keeps happening.