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

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…

“An act deserving of a bolt of lightning from a vengeful God”

I am furious!

I am disgusted.

I am an American and this perfidy is being carried out in my name.

That the would-be ruler of this country could be so twisted as to conceive of a policy that forcibly separates children from their parents is an outrage, a barbarity, an atrocity. That his sinister, cretinous batboy could enact such a policy under the guise of protecting me from the purported ‘danger’ posed by impoverished people seeking a better life, or by claiming a need to winnow out “cheaters” from endangered human beings seeking asylum makes me vomitous. That the creature most responsible for crafting and ordering such an anti-human horror could be so shameless, so morally corrupt, as to attempt to justify it by citing part of a verse from the Bible invites the thought of tar, feathers and a convenient rail.

This is not leadership. This is calumny, it is an act deserving of a bolt of lightning from a vengeful God.

But evil is as evil does. Where is the moral courage of our uniformed neighbors, whom one assumes to be fellow citizens and not robots? Yes, those who, having been given an order, choose to rip an infant from the breast of its mother? Where is the integrity expected of men and women chosen to enforce the law yet will apparently blindly comply with orders that so violate not only every fundamental human right but every human value, in acts reminiscent of soldiers of the Reich? Where is the humanity basic American values require of the bearer, the wearer of the badge of authority?

As Congress dithers and pundits debate, children and their parents are being traumatized in numbers that beggar the imagination. In the name of the United States of America, Ronald Reagan’s cherished “City upon the Hill,” we, the people of this “indispensable nation” are today personally responsible for doing serious psychological damage to terrified, weeping, shrieking children while at the same time inflicting untold suffering on their heartbroken mothers and fathers. And we are doing this, we are all doing this, in the name of what? Self-preservation? Law and order? Political survival? Racial prejudice? Self-justification? Utter, blinding, disgraceful ignorance?

Illegal alien
Have we allowed ourselves to become so comfortable, so complacent, so self-satisfied, so hypnotized by the belief in ‘American exceptionalism’ that we are no longer embarrassed by our ability to look away, to pretend we don’t see the crucifixion, the anguish we inflict on those cast away or ignored?

If there is any meaning in the words we say and songs we sing with hats off and hands over hearts, if some vestigial memory of what is meant sometimes wets the eyes or stirs the heart, if there is a shred of decency clinging to the meaning of America after so many years of its being cheapened and brutalized by the weakness, opportunism, meanness, avarice, and gluttony of the morally wounded who pretend to leadership, it calls out for expression from the people who are, we are told, its “of, by, and for”.

If the people who comprise the bone and sinew of this nation do not rise up and demand not only an end to this spirit-murdering massacre of innocent souls but a campaign of tender care and healing for its victims, the America they sing of and claim to hold high is no more.

If there is to be a future for the country we love, the people must protest, must act. The heart and soul of this nation, its people, must be heard.

If you will do nothing more, at a minimum, take a knee.

Source: Death Penalty Focus, Mike Farrell, June, 2018. Actor, activist, and writer Mike Farrell is president of Death Penalty Focus.

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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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