The Supreme Court by a 5-4 decision today (Thursday) held that the state cannot execute a prisoner if s/he is insane.
KILL EM ALL
The court did not address the issue of the insanity of a government executing its own citizens.
Here are some logical conclusions from the opinion:
1) The state's interest in the mental health of one of its citizens becomes critical not before the time of the murder (when innocent life could be saved) - but only after a conviction and sentence of death. It is at that point that the state must spend time and money on physicians to treat a citizen's mental illness so that the citizen may be restore to sanity......So the State may then kill that citizen.
2) It is meaningless to execute a defendant who does not understand s/he is being punished.
3) It is cruel and unusual to execute someone who does not realize (perhaps blissfully?) they are being put to death. However, it is not cruel and unusual to otherwise execute someone. In other words, it is cruel and unusual to die if you don't realize you're about to die. But so long as you sit in an 8X8 cage for years fully aware and pondering your impending death, then the 8th Amendment is not violated.
4) There is no truth to the rumor that Scalia and Thomas dissent contains the phrase "we are diminished by the continuing life of any individual that deserves to be executed." That was just a vicious rumour started in the Supreme Court's canteen.
Thomas's dissent: The dissent focused on the impropriety of granting a successive writ. Regarding the issue of raising insanity (addressing the problem of a prisoner becoming insane after the first writ was denied) , Thomas wrote that the solution was for all prisoners to preserve the insanity issue in the first writ, thus allowing them to raise it in a successive writ if the issue became ripe.
Who gave this man a license to practice law?
Putting aside the ironic lunacy of his reasoning, does he have any idea what his solution says to the issue of only raising claims in legal pleadings that apply? And since Thomas's proposal would allow a person to file a successive writ if they preserved the insanity issue in the first writ, why not just allow successive writs when the issue of insanity becomes ripe, without requiring lawyers to file false pleadings on behalf of clients under sentence of death? If you read the opinion, this part of the dissent is phrased in the context of what is called "A Ford issue."
Justice Scalia, ever eloquent in dissent had this to say "Don't mess with Texas."
So dear reader, the Supreme Court closed its term today with a number of decisions.
The court resurrected with approval Plessy v. Ferguson ("seperate but equal", circa 1896) in striking down a Seattle school district's consideration of race when assigning children to school.
"Brown blows and the Plessy court had it right" said Justice Thomas.
And while an innocent man's appeal should be denied for lack of jurisdiction if the Judge gives him wrong advice on how long he has to file the appeal, a guilty man cannot be executed if during his long stay in an 8X8 cage 23 hours a day, he happens to lose his mind.
This is our Supreme Court, in all its conservative glory.
See you in court, winning trials and avoiding appeals.
PS: Friday we bid a fond fairwell to Judge Cristina Shuminer, who like so many other robed readers of late, heads off to the more lucrative land of televsion. We hardly had a chance to get to know Judge Shuminer before she left, but by all accounts she will be missed. We wish her well.