Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Mr. Active Liberty, crime and punishment: The other day Clarence Ray Allen, a convicted murderer who ordered the deaths of four people who had testified him at trial was executed early Tuesday morning.
Allen was 76 when he went to meet his maker, 59 years older than one of his murder victims, Josephine Rocha.
As his scheduled execution neared, his lawyers claimed that executing the elderly man, who was legally blind and nearly deaf, would be cruel and unusual punishment. Like the boy who killed his parents and then begged mercy because he was orphan, Allen went through decades of appeals and then pleads mercy because it's taken so long.
Of course, no one buys this except the Justice with the mostest, Stephen Breyer, Mr. Active Liberty himself. You see, Breyer's interest as a Supreme Court Justice, as revealed in his latest book, is to do whatever he can to "increase" liberty. In this case, it appears that he would increase liberty by issuing a stay. [PDF format]
Petitioner is 76 years old, blind, suffers from diabetes, is confined to a wheelchair, and has been on death row for 23 years. I believe that in the circumstances he raises a significant question as to whether his execution would constitute cruel and unusual punishment.
Remember, Breyer is in the legal mainstream -- but Samuel Alito isn't. Liberals swim in a very narrow stream.