First Stop: San Diego

Good day, everyone.  I have been in a bit of a hiatus over the last several weeks as I went through final exams and graduation.  I look forward to catching up on the discussions that have occurred in my absence. 

One discussion that I noticed has not come up is Senator Obama’s comments that he disagrees with the recent Supreme Court decision that further limits the death penalty.  Personally, I disagree with the death penalty under any circumstance.  I do not deny that some people deserve to be put to death, but I do not believe it is possible to implement a foolproof system that will ensure with certainty that no innocent people are put to death.  As an economist, I see no evidence that indicates the death penalty is a deterrent to would-be murders.  George Bush even said there is no other reason other than deterrence to maintain the death penalty.  Barak Obama has been to the left of me on every issue with which I disagreed with him to date.  Now, he suddenly takes a position light years to the right of me?  Smacks of political pandering, not change.  I still support him, but am rather disappointed in his statements.

My journey has begun.  I am currently in San Diego being processed back onto active duty in the Navy.  My plans for next week have changed, but I am not at liberty to discuss upcoming movements.  While I served in the Persian Gulf during the first Gulf War, I have never been through this process of being activated as a reservist. It has been interesting thus far and I am taking notes of my experiences.  I will continue to share whatever I can whenever I can share it.      

3 Responses to First Stop: San Diego

  1. lbsmom says:

    koolaid—first of all, congratulations on your graduation! and second, i wish you a safe tour of duty and look forward to your news on this blog. you are in my prayers, and thank you for serving our country. may god bless you and all those around you with good instincts, faith in humankind, hope in the future and a welcome homecoming asap.

  2. jeffaregularworkinglawyer says:

    Koolaid — Nice to hear from you again. I oppose the death penalty largely for the same reasons that you do, but those are policy preferences, and do not necessarily arise to constitutional issues. Kennedy v. Louisiana was decided under the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. We know from other Supreme Court cases that the Eighth Amendment does not bar capital punishment in general, or the use of lethal injection in particular. The issue then becomes proportionality — can a punishment be so excessive given the crime committed that the Eighth Amendment prohibits the states from enacting it?

    On one level, it’s pretty obvious that the answer must be yes — if Louisiana decides to execute jaywalkers, or even to imprison them for 50 years without parole, we’d want the federal courts to step in. (Right?) But in the harder cases, the Supreme Court has been reluctant, at least in non-capital cases, to declare state mandated criminal sanctions unconstitutionally excessive. For instance, in a 2003 Eighth Amendment challenge to California’s “three strikes” law, the court upheld a 50-to-life term for a man who stole $153 of videotapes from Kmart, and a 25-to-life term for a thief who shoplifted clubs from a golf course.

    Add that to the fact that the Supreme Court based its decision in part on an “emerging national consensus”, but that the government failed to tell the court that Congress had recently made child rape a capital offense under the USMCJ , and I’m not sure that the dissent doesn’t have the better legal argument here. But death is different, and capital punishment will continue to give us cases that are arguably bad law.

  3. jeffaregularworkinglawyer says:

    Koolaid — One more thing. The Supreme Court decided this, presumably once and for all, in favor of the abolitionist position. For Obama to say that he disagrees may be a pander if he really agrees — although maybe he doesn’t. (What did he say about the death penalty to make you believe it that he’s pandering instead of stating his actual beliefs?) But even if it is a pander, it’s harmless, because no presidential action, and no legislation, can directly overrule the Supremes on this one. Only the Court can do it — and who is more likely to appoint pro-capital punishment for child rapist justices, Obama or McCain?

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