Death Penalty

  • May 7, 2014

    As controversy continues to surround Oklahoma’s botched execution of Clayton Lockett, a “bipartisan panel of legal experts have urged sweeping changes in what it calls the ‘deeply flawed’ administration of capital punishment.” Erik Eckholm at The New York Times reports on the panel’s proposal for execution by single-dose injections. At The Week, Andrew Cohen explains why either John Paul Stevens or Sandra Day O’Connor should lead Oklahoma’s  investigation.
     
    Writing for The New York Times, Justin Gillis reports on a new study which shows “with water growing scarcer in dry regions, torrential rains increasing in wet regions, and heat waves becoming more common and more severe…the effects of human-induced climate change are being felt in every corner of the United States.”
     
    As the Supreme Court nears the end of its term, many will be focusing on the justices’ ruling in high stakes securities class action and software patent cases. Lawrence Hurley at Reuters has the story.
     
    At The Life of the Law, Katherine Thompson writes to President Obama about immigration law and the struggles facing same-sex couples—and he writes back. 

     

     

  • May 6, 2014

    by Jeremy Leaming

    Oklahoma lawmakers sparked debate over the death penalty and provoked a much-needed discussion about the importance of impartial courts last week when one of two planned executions went horribly awry.

    State officials, including Gov. Mary Fallin, pushed for the execution of two death row inmates even though the Oklahoma Supreme Court had stayed the executions arguing that more information was needed to determine whether the state’s new combination of drugs for killing death row inmates passed constitutional muster. That pressure led to the state supreme court lifting its stay and resulting in the bungled execution of Clayton D. Lockett. (Lockett died of a massive heart attack more han 40 minutes after state executioners attempted to kill him.) The second execution was temporarily put on hold.

    In a piece for the Tulsa World, Joseph Thai, the Presidential Professor of Law  and Watson Centennial Chair in Law at the University of Oklahoma College of Law, blasted lawmakers for working to keep the methods of execution secret.

    “Though I am both a law professor and a lawyer, I write as an Oklahoma citizen and taxpayer. Our state executes more of its citizens per capita than any other state. Because Oklahoma imposes capital punishment on behalf of its citizens, and because its taxpayers bear the costs, the state must not shroud its executions from public scrutiny.”

    Thai added that as “Oklahomans, we may disagree with each other – and with the rest of the country – on the morality, efficacy and fairness of the death penalty. But in a civilized society, hopefully we can all agree that, as long as our state puts human beings to death, it should do so without unnecessary pain and suffering.”

    Read Thai’s entire piece here and register for an ACS May 7 call featuring Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick and death penalty expert Megan McCracken on how impartial courts can help ensure that state lawmakers carry out executions without trampling constitutional rights and principles.

  • May 6, 2014

    Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Town of Greece v. Galloway that the First Amendment was not violated when monthly board meetings in Greece, New York were opened with a Christian prayer. In dissent, Justice Elena Kagan wrote that the ruling would “strike a heavy blow against the nation’s tradition of religious pluralism, and will lead to prayers that will actively promote a single faith’s religious values.” At The Daily BeastGeoffrey R. Stone, former ACS Board Chair and current Co-Chair of the Board of Advisors for the ACS Chicago Lawyer Chapter as well as Co-Faculty Advisor for the University of Chicago Law School ACS Student Chapter, breaks down the decision. At The Atlantic, Garrett Epps reveals how the court’s decision “shows how far the ground has shifted under the Establishment Clause in the last 30 years” while Dahlia Lithwick at Slate prepares her readers to “get ready for a lot more Jesus in your life.”  
     
    In the wake of Oklahoma’s botched execution of Clayton D. Lockett, the White House “has commissioned yet another study of lethal injections.” Writing for The Atlantic, Andrew Cohen explains why President Obama “would be better off lobbying the Supreme Court and Congress to make changes.”
     
    At The New York Times, Adam Liptak reports on a new study which reveals that Justice Antonin Scalia “voted to uphold the free speech rights of conservative speakers at more than triple the rate of liberal ones” while David S. Joachim reports on the “pivotal” Republican primaries in North Carolina, Georgia, and Kentucky and what they could mean for the 2014 midterm elections.
     
    At Womenstake, Michelle Banker comments on a Guttmacher Institute study which shows that “more bills to protect access to abortion have been introduced thus far in 2014 than had been introduced in any year for the past 25 years.” 
  • May 5, 2014

     
    The effects of McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission are being felt in elections across the country. Writing for the Brennan Center for Justice, Ian Vandewalker discusses how the Republican primary in Florida’s 19th congressional district “illustrates how individual wealth can be an avenue to a seat in Congress — a body in which millionaires now have a majority.”
     
    As calls for the retirement of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg persist, the justice remains steadfast in her decision to continue her “pathmarking” career. Jess Bravin at The Wall Street Journal  discusses Ginsburg’s tenure on the court and a life representing both “historic significance and present-day power.”
     
    Writing for The New York Times, ACS Board Member Linda Greenhouse addresses Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action and why “the decision stopped short of a direct hit on affirmative action.”
     
    Jennifer Bard at Prawfsblawg notes Senator Elizabeth Warren’s A Fighting Chance and why “student loan reform is necessary but not sufficient to developing a legal education that better prepares our students for the important role they will play in society.”
     
    Robert Tsai at Concurring Opinions proposes “the creation of a new national office dedicated to the protection of civil and human rights.” 
  • May 2, 2014

    At The New York Times, Erik Eckholm and John Schwartz describe the timeline leading up to the controversial execution of Clayton D. Lockett, while Jan Hoffman reports that “4.1 percent of death row defendants  are falsely convicted.” Meanwhile, at Slate, Dahlia Lithwick explains why “Oklahoma’s botched execution was the grim but predictable result of a state more concerned with vengeance than justice.”
     
    At California Lawyer, Rory Little talks with U.S. Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli, Jr. about the Affordable Care Act, clerking for Justice Brennan and the possibility of becoming a Supreme Court Justice.
     
    As the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education fast approaches, Sherrilyn Ifill at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund reflects on the landmark case.