August 18, 2009

No Constitutional Protection Of Innocence

According to Justice Antonin Scalia, there is no Constitutional basis for saving wrongfully convicted criminals from execution.

To quote the man himself, "This court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is ‘actually’ innocent."

This contrasts even with conservative former Chief Justice William Rehnquist's remarks in Herrera v. Collins, where he observed, "we may assume, for the sake of argument in deciding this case, that in a capital case a truly persuasive demonstration of ‘actual innocence’ made after trial would render the execution of a defendant unconstitutional and warrant federal habeas relief.”

Unfortunately, the matter has never been settled as a case of Constitutional law. Perhaps that will change in the near future, much to Justice Scalia's chagrin. And mayhaps this time the conservative media will bemoan that Justices Scalia and Thomas are attempting to act as activist judges and ignoring the clear intent of the framers that innocent men not be executed. But I doubt it.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at August 18, 2009 12:12 PM | TrackBack