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January 7, 2008

Putting Baze et al. in perspective

This morning, largely because of the Baze case to be argued in the Supreme Court, most of the morning posts at How Appealing link to death penalty articles or commentary.  Among the best of the group is this new piece from Benjamin Wittes from The New Republic, titled "The Death Clock: Don't count out the death penalty yet."  Here is how it starts:

These are heady days for anti-death penalty activists.  New Jersey has taken the plunge and legislatively repealed capital punishment — becoming the first state in the modern era to do so.  Today, the Court will hear arguments over whether the specific drug cocktail used in lethal injections constitutes cruel and unusual punishment by causing too much pain to the condemned.  By taking up the issue, the Court has effectively frozen all executions in the nation.   And no state other than Texas (a significant exception) executed more than three people last year.  The news has the anti-capital punishment Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) proclaiming the "execution chambers silent" as the Garden State charts a "new direction" and declaring both actions symbolic of the "broad changes that have been occurring in the death penalty around the country."

Curb your enthusiasm.  The death penalty is, like the Iraqi insurgency, not quite yet in its death throes.  While capital punishment appears on the wane right now, neither New Jersey's action nor the temporary national freeze — particularly the latter — may mean all that much in the long run.

January 7, 2008 at 09:57 AM | Permalink

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Some readers might be pleased, or at least interested, to know that this morning's orders list includes a bunch of Gall/Kimbrough GVRs, including a ton of the better-known crack/powder court of appeals cases (Pho, Eura, Spears, Jointer)

Posted by: | Jan 7, 2008 10:19:13 AM

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