1998 Pulitzer Prize winner Linda Greenhouse has written a compelling op-ed in the New York Times today on the Supreme Court's inconsistent and often bewildering approach to death penalty cases. She cites the court's decision to allow Oklahoma to execute Charles Warner despite his appeal before the court challenging Oklahoma's execution protocol, and the court's subsequent decision, less than two weeks later, to hear identical appeals case, Glossip v. Gross, their split decision on a stay of execution for Walter Storey, their refusal to hear the appeal of Lester Lerow Bower Jr. and the court's seeming befuddlement during a recent hearing of Brumfiled v. Cain, in which the central question is whether or not Kevan Brumfield should receive a new hearing in Louisiana to prove that he is, in fact, mentally disabled and thus ineligible for the death penalty.
From the New York Times:
The number of death sentences imposed last year, 72, was the lowest in 40 years. The number of executions, 35, was the lowest since 1994, less than half the modern peak of 98, reached in 1999. Seven states, the fewest in 25 years, carried out executions...But if there’s one place that seems to stand apart from the tide of disenchantment with capital punishment, it’s the Supreme Court. That’s not to say that the court hasn’t issued decisions that have limited the application of the death penalty: Atkins v. Virginia in 2002 ruled out executing defendants with intellectual disability; Roper v. Simmons in 2005 prohibited executing those who murdered before the age of 18; and Kennedy v. Louisiana in 2008 held that states could not make the rape of a child a death-eligible offense...Those were all closely fought cases, the last two decided by votes of 5 to 4. And in other, less visible cases, the court appears to be floundering, ever more tightly enmeshed in what Justice Harry A. Blackmun called the machinery of death. Recent episodes have been both mystifying to the public and embarrassing to the court.
You can read the full op-ed here: The Supreme Court’s Death Trap
Given their erractic treatment of death penalty cases, it is clear that we cannot rely on the Supreme Court alone to end the death penalty in the United States. If we are to end the death penalty sooner rather than later, we must continue to use our voices to educate others and push for change on a grassroots, local and national level, so that we can stop this horrific, unjust and archaic practice once and for all.
The NCADP has created the 90 Million Strong Campaign to unite the voices of those who believe the death penalty is wrong. We need to demonstrate that the broad public support to end this practice is already here in America, and 90 million people speaking up can make a difference.