Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Re: Miller-El

Another Texas Death Penalty update (see our previous discussion of the Miller-El case here and discussion of another case here). The New York Times sets the scene for arguments heard yesterday:

the Supreme Court has made clear its growing unease with the administration of the death penalty in Texas and its exasperation with the state and federal courts that hear appeals from the state's death row. The Supreme Court was now taking the unusual step of hearing Mr. Miller-El's appeal from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit for a second time, and several justices indicated that the concerns they expressed the first time had not been allayed. Although Mr. Miller-El's life was at stake, in a sense it was the appeals court that was on trial in Miller-El v. Dretke, No. 03-9659.

"This case was here before and we all read the majority opinion," Justice Stephen G. Breyer told Ms. Bunn, an assistant state attorney general. "It might be in my interest if people followed dissents more often," he added wryly, while noting that it was the majority opinion and not the dissent that was binding on the appeals court.

I'm sure many of our theologically-minded readers are sick of hearing about this Supreme Court case, but I think the runaway unjust and irrational administration of state-sponsored killing is a fundamentally Christian concern. That being said, I also have a deep personal concern over whether the rule of law will ultimately prevail over the cynical politics of conservatively-activist judges in my home state.


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