FEATURED POST

America Is Stuck With the Death Penalty for (At Least) a Generation

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With Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement, the national fight to abolish capital punishment will have to go local.
When the Supreme Court revived capital punishment in 1976, just four years after de facto abolishing it, the justices effectively took ownership of the American death penalty and all its outcomes. They have spent the decades since then setting its legal and constitutional parameters, supervising its general implementation, sanctioning its use in specific cases, and brushing aside concerns about its many flaws.
That unusual role in the American legal system is about to change. With Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the court this summer, the Supreme Court will lose a heterodox jurist whose willingness to cross ideological divides made him the deciding factor in many legal battles. In cases involving the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, his judgment often meant the difference between life and death for hundreds of death-row pr…

Trump backs death penalty for drug dealers; is it constitutional?

Trump
President Donald Trump backed the death penalty for drug dealers on Saturday at a Pennsylvania rally, while his administration is reportedly studying the issue.

Trump said the United States got the idea of capital punishment for drug dealers from Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Washington Post reports.

The idea needs discussion, although “I don’t know if this country’s ready for it,” Trump said. CNN also has coverage.

Trump said people who kill just one person get the death penalty, while drug dealers can kill 5,000 people with drugs. “These people are killing our kids and they’re killing our families, and we have to do something,” Trump said.

The Post reported on Friday that Trump’s Domestic Policy Council and the U.S. Justice Department are studying policy changes that would authorize prosecutors to seek the death penalty for drug dealers.

One approach might be to make trafficking large quantities of fentanyl a capital crime because even a small amount of the drug can kill, the Post reported. The administration is also studying tougher prison sentences for large-scale dealers.

Federal law allows the death penalty for drug related murders in four situations, according to the Death Penalty Information Center: for a murder related to drug trafficking; for a drug-related murder of a law enforcement officer; for a drug-related murder involving a drive-by shooting; and for a murder committed by use of a firearm during a drug-trafficking crime.

George Washington University law professor Peter Meyers said he doesn’t agree with the idea of adding more capital crimes for drug dealers, but the idea would “very likely” be constitutional.

Ohio State University law professor Douglas Berman, however, had doubts. “It is not at all clear that death sentences for drug dealers, even for those whose drugs cause multiple deaths, would be constitutional,” he wrote at the Sentencing Law and Policy blog. “It is entirely clear that the issue would be litigated extensively and would have to be definitively decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Source: ABA Journal, Debra Cassens Weiss, March 12, 2018


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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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