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November 21, 2007

The challenge of killing the death penalty

How Appealing collects here the media coverage of an attempt by a state legislator to save the (moribund) death penalty in New Jersey.  Here are details from this New York Times article:

The leading social conservative in the New Jersey State Senate, Gerald Cardinale, accused Democrats on Tuesday of trying to rush a bill repealing the death penalty through the Legislature without sufficient deliberation.

The Democrats, who control both the General Assembly and the Senate, have put the legislation on a fast track, and supporters and opponents alike say it has a good chance of passage before the new Legislature takes office in January.  Passage by that group would not be as certain. If the bill becomes law, New Jersey will become the first state to outlaw capital punishment since the United States Supreme Court permitted executions to resume in 1976.

Seeking to counter some of the momentum that has been building for the proposal, Mr. Cardinale, of Bergen County, appeared at the state Capitol on Tuesday with Prof. Robert Blecker of New York Law School, a prominent death penalty supporter. “There’s no emergency here,” Professor Blecker said. “As everybody knows, New Jersey hasn’t executed anybody in decades.” The state’s last execution was in 1963.

Mr. Cardinale said the Democratic leadership in the Legislature was trying to bulldoze the opposition. “Ramming an issue of this magnitude through the Legislature during the lame-duck session is at the very least poor public policy and, quite frankly, offensive.” At one point during Mr. Cardinale’s remarks, the news conference veered into a sticky discussion of urban politics and race after he said that Democrats were taking advantage of their “uninformed” urban base by fast-tracking the bill.

Some related posts on New Jersey's capital punishment debate:

November 21, 2007 at 11:06 AM | Permalink


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The death penalty will never be abolished. So long as liberal idiot judges think that it's enlightened to risk innocent lives by freeing killers, we will have a death penalty.


These people were executed by the state as sure as Schwab will be. The only difference is that people like David Dow only save their outrage for executing murderers.

Posted by: federalist | Nov 21, 2007 1:53:43 PM

“liberal idiot judges”

Ha ha. Nonlawyers are funny.

Of course, the irony is that every death penalty affirmed based on a challenge to the trial or sentencing risks an potentially innocent life as well. Heck, every day we let people drive, innocent lives are lost. Indeed, every time someone is acquitted or a prosecutor decides that there is a lack of evidence there is a risk someone might offend again.

The death penalty will last as long as we lawyers want it to last, and not a moment longer. The decision will be made by lawyers who are far above the “liberal” and “conservative” labels that the lay people must use to explain things you cannot understand.

Posted by: S.cotus | Nov 21, 2007 2:27:11 PM

So, in reference to this article, who are the idiots in New Jersey? The legislators or the 'uninformed' (read: idiot) voting base?

Posted by: Sawyer | Nov 21, 2007 2:27:50 PM

In a word - Yawn. Are you really federalist, or did you just swipe his screen name? He used to seem to have something to say.

Posted by: Gray Proctor | Nov 21, 2007 3:09:09 PM

Looks like the judge in the site you reference made a really stupid call, though.

Posted by: Gray Proctor | Nov 21, 2007 3:25:43 PM

Why didn't you quote the part of the article reflecting that N.J. Senator Gerald Cardinale was a white supremacist:

"'There is an uninformed electorate in certain areas of this state,' he said. 'It forms the base of support for the majority party in both houses. That uninformed electorate is moved in certain emotional directions by the fact that they think the death penalty disproportionally affects inner-city residents.'

"Mr. Cardinale later tried to clarify his comments, saying that he had no particular group in mind. 'I don’t know if they’re black. I don’t know if they’re brown. I don’t know if they’re purple. It is not for me to judge."

Sure you don't, Mr. Cardinale. It's little wonder this is the man trying to save the death penalty in New Jersey.


All murder victims are executed by the State. In fact, by people just like you who support the State in insisting on maintaining economic and social conditions of society at the dysfunctional status quo. And all for a little extra dough, to boot.

Posted by: DK | Nov 21, 2007 3:46:21 PM

I think it might be going a little too far to say that people "insist" on maintaining the same social conditions in society. Sure, many people are classist and absolutely hate poor people. After all, poor people spend all the time watching TV and drinking. They usually get into drugs. They lack the kind of education that we require of each other.

But, I don't see how people "insist" on maintaining these hierarchies. After all, in the US, even someone from a family with no lawyers in it could go to law school. Sure it would be harder. Sure they would have no idea which law school and have no social skills, but a few short years later they could be exercising the power of the state to put people in jail and brag about the families they have ruined by sending their crack-using fathers to jail.

It may be that that Mr. Cardinale is a racist. (He sure sounds like it.) But I seriously doubt that everyone involved in this proceedings is a racist. S

Posted by: S.cotus | Nov 23, 2007 9:02:52 AM


I don't think you understand my point. Maintaining an unstable poor underclass, which the US undeniably does, is a social choice. This choice has been made by the US ruling class in coordination with the middle and upper classes, who reject almost all social welfare initiatives. We could, consistent with more equitable societies like the Scandinavian countries, guarantee meaningful housing, physical and mental health care, food, and education to every citizen as basic human rights. That would cost money, to be sure (although it could easily be found in the money we spend on utterly wasteful global military adventures), but it would drastically reduce the occurrence of murder, unlike the death penalty, which, at best, reduces the murder rate by an almost negligible fraction. We've chosen not to do that. In fact, most self-righteous death penalty advocates who profess to care so much about murder victims in our society, like federalist, actively oppose doing it. They're hypocrites of the worst kind who don't for a second mean what they say.

(Incidentally, and sadly, the reason why the US has diverged so much from Europe in regards to social welfare policy is because of our racism against blacks, whom most middle and upper class folks see such programs as "unfairly" benefiting. Hence the emergence of welfare queens driving Cadillacs (Ronald Reagan) in political discourse. That makes the situation even sadder. And why it is no surprise that a racist like Cardinale is precisely the kind of person we find trying to save New Jersey's death penalty.)

Posted by: DK | Nov 24, 2007 12:54:14 PM

DK, I mean what I say. I believe in capital punishment. And I want to see killers executed. It's that simple.

My point, of course, with the link is to show how the innocent are killed by idiotic state actors who don't jump at the chance to remove killers from society. This judge has blood on her hands. I wonder how she sleeps.

Posted by: federalist | Nov 25, 2007 11:22:10 PM

Federalist, Judges make legal decisions based on the arguments presented to them. This is how they “sleep.” They are not policy-makers, and they are not morally responsible for doing anything besides doing their best to construe the law. While it is cute for non-lawyers (of which you have admitting that you are among their ranks) to attribute personal responsibility to judges for some remote effects, the US has opted instead to adopt a system of appellate review of decisions rather than moral or financial liability for the actions of judges.

DK, I am a member of either the middle class and/or ruling class. (I have a very high level of education and make more money than most people.) Nobody has ever coordinated with me on the plan to “maintain” an “unstable” “poor underclass.” This is a pity because I like the idea of an underclass. Though, if they asked me, I would make the underclass more “Stable” than “unstable.” I am not sure if I would make the “poor” all members of the “underclass” or not. But, it is food for thought.

Your use of the term “undeniably” means very little, because you are assuming your own conclusion.

Education in the US is guaranteed to just about everyone. Unfortunately, many Americans choose to squander their opportunities by “hanging out” or watching TV. (In general, I feel that if you drink or watch TV during high school, you don’t care about an education and are electing to be poor. I mean really, why should I care about someone that spent their high school “hanging out”?) Medical care is also provided to the poor in the US. At the moment it is not universal, but tax rates are lower than those in Scandinavian countries. But this might be a rational policy choice as opposed to some wild conspiracy theory.

It is unclear why education would reduce the “murder” rate. Because you do not provide any theory as to why this would happen, I am perplexed.

Finally, you make a number of crazy assertions:

“Incidentally, and sadly, the reason why the US has diverged so much from Europe in regards to social welfare policy is because of our racism against blacks”

Oh really? Do you really think that someone that wants to cut taxes is a racist? I mean, if we were really “racist against blacks” wouldn’t it be simply easier just to specifically allow for racial discrimination in hiring and public funds. We could simply limit education to white people only. God, you sound like Federalist.

Posted by: S.cotus | Nov 26, 2007 11:31:54 AM


You sure that deep down you are not a racist and that from time to time you say things almost in support of African Americans to save face...?

Posted by: ForAllPeople | Nov 27, 2007 10:30:51 AM

Dear ForAllPeople:

In the immortal words of Jerry Blank, "The truth is... YOU ARE A RACIST. Think about it. I haven't."

Posted by: S.cotus | Nov 27, 2007 11:38:18 AM

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