Death Penalty

  • May 14, 2014
    At The New York Times, Charlie Savage discusses why the Obama administration is being accused of ignoring “statements it made to the Supreme Court about warrantless surveillance.”
     
    Yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit granted a stay of the execution for Robert 
    James Cambell due to his intellectual disability. Mark Berman at The Washington Post reports on what “would have been the eighth execution in Texas and the 21st execution in the country so far this year.”
     
    The Court of Justice of the European Union issued a ruling yesterday that experts say “could force Google and other search engines to delete references to old debts, long-ago arrests and other unflattering episodes.” The Associated Press addresses the implications of the court’s decision.
     
    Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is calling for the impeachment of Arkansas Judge Christopher Piazza who struck down the gay marriage ban that Gov. Huckabee signed into law 17 years ago. Mario Trujillo at The Hill has the story.
     
    Writing for The Daily Beast, Daniel I. Weiner discusses “the worst campaign finance ruling” since Citizens United
  • May 12, 2014

    As education inequality increases, hostilities between public education and charter schools continue. Although many charter schools were established to “develop test kitchens for practices that could be exported into the traditional schools” it has “proved difficult to encourage the kind of sharing of ideas that charter schools were originally supposed to foster, given competitive dynamics.” Javier C. Hernandez at The New York Times comments on “charter and public schools and a chasm between.”
     
    Garrett Epps at The Atlantic describes a troubling scene which resulted in the shooting of an innocent man when a law enforcement official mistakenly accused him of car theft. In his article, Epps breaks down Tolan v. Cotton, in which for “the first time in a decade” the Supreme Court “held against law enforcement in a ‘qualified immunity’ case.”
     
    Adam Liptak at The New York Times discusses how “the deep and often angry divisions among [Supreme Court] justices are but a distilled version of the way American intellectuals — at think tanks and universities, in opinion journals and among the theorists and practitioners of law and politics — have separated into two groups with vanishingly little overlap or interaction.”
     
    The controversial execution of Clayton Lockett raised new questions about the merits of capital punishment in America. Boer Deng and Dahlia Lithwick at Slate explain why “in the push to abolish capital punishment, opponents of the death penalty have made it less safe.”
     
    Last week, an Arkansas state trial judge struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog breaks down Wright v. Arkansas

     

     

  • May 9, 2014

    Yesterday, Oklahoma officials delayed the execution of Charles F. Warne. The decision comes just a week after the botched execution of Clayton D. Lockett which left him “writhing in pain before he died of heart failure.” Erik Eckholm at The New York Times reports on the state of capital punishment in the Sooner State.
     
    Labor groups will be looking to get national attention next week as they kick-off fast-food protests in the U.S. and around the world. The Washington Post reports that the protest efforts are coming “at a time when the widening income gap has become a pressing issue” and fewer workers are aware of their rights.
     
    Following the Supreme Court’s decision in Town of Greece v. Galloway, the justices will decide whether to hear oral argument in a case involving a public school graduation ceremony held at a church. Mark Walsh at Education Week’s School Law Blog breaks down Elmbrook School District v. Doe
     
    Jennifer Bard at Prawfblawg analyzes the problems facing legal education and “what we must do to make students not just practice ready but work ready.”
     
    Lambda Legal’s Blog notes an important victory for same sex couples in Indiana.  
  • May 8, 2014

    Critics of the Roberts Court assert that its recent trend of opinions have favored increasing restrictions on minorities. In an op-ed for The New York Times, Thomas B. Edsall explains why an examination of the high court’s decisions in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, Shelby County v. Holder and Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, reveals a “Supreme injustice.”
     
    As the Supreme Court prepares to address the recess appointment dispute in National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning, Victor Williams at The Huffington Post reminds Justice Scalia of “his former, much broader view of originalism in the context of presidential appointment authority.”
     
    The Supreme Court’s decision in Riley v. California and American Broadcasting Co. v. Aereo, Inc. “may significantly alter the way we capture, store, and consume information (Aereo) and the extent to which we can expect privacy with regard to, or control, that information (Riley).” Writing for the Brennan Center for Justice, Victoria Bassetti addresses whether the justices are “tech literate enough to get these cases right.”
     
    Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee voted to amend the USA Freedom Act which “would require the National Security Agency to get case-by-case approval from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court before collecting the telephone or business records of a U.S. resident.” Kevin Drum at Mother Jones has the story.
     
    Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin is facing criticism for her decision to bypass the state Supreme Court’s stay in the execution of Clayton Lockett. Jamelle Bouie at Slate  argues that “Lockett’s execution was a horrifying display—a cruel and unusual death that wouldn’t have happened without Mary Fallin.” 

     

  • May 7, 2014
    Guest Post
    by Joseph Thai, Watson Centennial Chair in Law and Presidential Professor of Law, University of Oklahoma College of Law
     
    If there is a silver lining to the rushed—and botched—execution of Clayton Lockett last week in Oklahoma, it is the national soul searching that it ignited over the place of the death penalty in our society. The public post-mortem has appropriately spotlighted the means by which the state attempted to kill Lockett—the injection of a secretly procured drug cocktail that failed to put him to death in the “humane” manner intended, but instead caused him to writhe in agony for over half an hour before he died of a traumatic heart attack. But hidden in plain sight was another troubling dimension to the double execution Oklahoma had planned for that night, with the second now on hold. Both condemned men were black.
     
    The mug shots of Lockett and the other condemned prisoner, Charles Warner, splashed across the front pages and screens of news outlets across the nation. They stared out at the viewer, expressionless, but not lifeless, bound to the same fate, and bound by race.
     
    It is no secret that race infects the death penalty. In the landmark case of McCleskey v. Kemp, which involved a challenge to capital punishment in Georgia as racially biased, the Supreme Court in 1987 acknowledged that capital sentencing “appears to correlate with race.” In fact, the correlations drawn by a seminal study of the death penalty in that southern state were stark: among them, a defendant was 4.3 times more likely to draw the death penalty if the crime involved a white victim rather than a black one, and the racial combination most likely to result in the death penalty was a black defendant and white victim. The Court rejected the challenge in a deeply divided 5-4 ruling, accepting that “apparent disparities in sentencing are an inevitable part of our criminal justice system,” but reasoning that “the Constitution does not place totally unrealistic conditions on its use.”