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November 10, 2005

Alito and Feingold discuss the death penalty

According to this news report, Senator Russ Feingold yesterday discussed the death penalty in his meet-and-greet session with Judge Alito.  Here are some highlights from the interesting article:

A death penalty opponent, Feingold said: "I found a person who actually thought about it deeply, who was troubled by innocent people being sentenced to death, and who gave particular concern to how those cases were handled as a Court of Appeals judge."...

Feingold said he was pleased with Alito's comments about capital punishment.  The senator said Alito expressed more concern and outrage about mistakes made in application of the death penalty than Roberts did in his exchanges with Feingold.  Alito described death penalty cases as "the most difficult to handle," said Feingold, and told the senator he treats them differently within his office from other cases, getting numerous clerks involved in the research but delegating less of the analysis.

Some of Alito's former law clerks echoed that Wednesday during a news conference they held in support of the nomination. "He really did seem to think that he shouldn't have his clerks deeply involved in the death penalty cases. . . . He really felt he had to take front-line responsibility for reviewing the briefs," said one former clerk, Rick Beckner.  "I don't know what his views are on the death penalty."  Other clerks said that few death penalty cases reached the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals while they were there but that Alito made it clear they didn't have to work on them if they were personally uncomfortable doing so.

Feingold said after his meeting that "I got the feeling he had some anxiety about the death penalty."

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