Anti-death-penalty Chron celebrates decision

The anti-death-penalty Chronicle must have been an ecstatic place yesterday, judging from today's output from the newspaper's staff columnists.

Rick Casey dialed up an anti-death-penalty activist (sadly, not editor Jeff Cohen's wife) so his column could celebrate the decision without Casey actually having to write much himself:

Dow says support for the death penalty itself is a mile wide and a half-inch deep.

"That's hard to see in Harris County, but even in Texas many district attorneys now seek the death penalty much less often than they could," he said.

And two years ago, a poll of Texans found that 41 percent thought executions should be halted while a number of issues were studied.

Sixty-nine percent said they believed innocent people had been executed. Still, 76 percent said they supported the death penalty.

Dow says, however, that the expressions of concern show a dwindling depth of conviction for the death penalty. If that's true in Texas, it's more true in other states.

The likely scenario, says Dow, is that most of the other states will quit executing criminals. Then the Supreme Court will stop Texas from doing it.

Just a few weeks ago, Casey was lecturing conservatives for (he contended) not being in favor of local control, intimating they were behind John Whitmire's opposition to SAFEclear. Now, with seemingly no memory of his earlier complaint about local control, he's using David Dow's voice to urge the Supreme Court to dictate how Texas will punish criminals. That's what sophists do in pursuit of bigger goals. And at the Chron, taking on the death penalty is certainly a big goal.

Then there's Cragg Hines:

Little by little, since it reinstated the death penalty in 1976, the Supreme Court has whittled back the administration and application of capital punishment.

To the Scalias of the world, the idea of "evolving" standards or, even worse to them, an "evolving" interpretation of the Constitution, is some sort of perversion (unless, of course, it gets them to their political ends).

But as Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in a concurring opinion joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, if the meaning of the Eighth Amendment "had been frozen when it was originally drafted, it would impose no impediment on the execution of 7-year-old children."

I'd hesitate to see that proposition brought to a vote in the Texas Legislature as currently constituted.

We know, Cragg. That makes you and Rick Casey. When you can't achieve your political ends via the democratic process, five justices will do. And your political ends haven't been much in favor in Texas for some time.

And then there's the Chron editorial board:

The court majority also drew on the fact that since only 19 states allow the execution of juveniles, the practice is in the minority and imposition of such sentences constitutes "cruel and unusual punishment." Likewise, most nations find the state-sanctioned killing of defendants for crimes committed as juveniles beyond the bounds of civilized behavior. Justice Kennedy acknowledged "the overwhelming weight of international opinion against the juvenile death penalty, resting in large part on the understanding that the instability and emotional imbalance of young people may often be a factor in the crime."

Who cares what Texans think, so long as five justices can turn to international opinion, right?

As we frequently concede, the Chronicle is entitled to whatever editorial position it would like, however out of tune with its readership. However, the editors shouldn't expect critical readers to believe this assertion:

The truth is that The Chronicle's editorial policy is neither liberal nor conservative, but based upon principles and pragmatism that transcend, or, less grandly, avoid partisan ideology.

Casey, Hines, and the editorial board all weigh in celebrating an anti-death-penalty decision, thereby transcending, or, less grandly, avoiding partisan ideology. Sure guys, keep on telling yourselves that if it makes you feel better. But don't expect us to concede it's "the truth."

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 03/02/05 06:02 PM | Print |

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