Tuesday, August 18, 2009

When Pigs Fly

The Supreme Court on Monday took the rare step of ordering a federal judge to consider the innocence claims of condemned Georgia prisoner Troy Anthony Davis, who has mounted a global campaign to declare he was wrongfully convicted of murder and barred by federal law from presenting the evidence that would prove it.


A recent story in the NY Times suggested that some federal judges were pushing back against the effects of the 1996 Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act. Now this decision - I swear that I saw a pig flying today!

Of course Scalia and his 5th appendage Thomas don't see it that way. "This court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is 'actually' innocent," Scalia wrote. Law professor Alan Dershowitz put Scalia and Thomas' logic into simpler terms: "If a defendant were convicted ... of murdering his wife and then came to the Supreme Court with his very much alive wife at his side ... these two justices would tell him, in effect: 'Look, your wife may be alive as a matter of fact, but as a matter of constitutional law, she's dead, and as for you, Mr. Innocent Defendant, you're dead, too, since there is no constitutional right not to be executed merely because you're innocent.'"

From a legal standpoint, Scalia and Thomas don't seem to believe a person can actually be innocent, only "guilty" or "not guilty," because that's the only thing the system is designed to determine. That's an incredible view of our justice system, one that deserves much more debate. Read more...

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