Bloggers react to a Supreme Court decision sanctioning lethal injections, ponder President Bush's global-warming plan, and scrutinize the battle between Rob Lowe and his nanny.
Legal injection: The Supreme Court has upheld Kentucky's right to use its current lethal-injection practices in a 7-2 decision that featured seven different opinions. Executions across the country have been on hold since the court took up the Baze v. Rees case in October but could resume soon.
"If defense lawyers do now mount new challenges, they will have to seek new court orders delaying specific executions, because the Supreme Court had not issued a formal moratorium on executions, even though — as a practical reality — it had not allowed any scheduled execution to occur while it was considering the Baze case. Thus, states would be free to schedule new execution dates," notesSCOTUSblog's Lyle Denniston.
Supreme Court junkies are weighing in on the "fractured majority" backing the opinion. Pointing to the disagreement between Justices Antonin Scalia and John Paul Stevens on whether the death penalty is a deterrent, Concurring Opinions' Dave Hoffman, a law professor, emphasizes, "Supreme Court Justices don't have the training or staff necessary to sort through competing empirical studies and reach a definitive conclusion. … And even were the Court to appoint a 'special statistics master,' can a constitutional question of this magnitude turn on econometric rabbit-holes?"
Commenting at the Volokh Conspiracy, TomB writes, "Justice Stevens delivers a rare and refreshing thing -- an honest, straightforward opinion. He shockingly admits that he opposes the death penalty for his own personal reasons, and can't support his opinion in a legal or constitutional way."
Xenophilia's Xeno blasts the decision: "The current system is a drug induced paralyzed torture resulting in a very slow painful death. Some innocent people have been executed this way. Guilty or not, ANY revenge killing, where no life is at currently risk from the convicted person, is the filthy work of a barbaric uncivilized society. Two wrongs make two wrongs." In a similar vein, EconTech'sComputer Economist muses, "I'm still waiting for the AMA to strip the license of any physician that participates in the development of execution technologies or executions themselves for breach of oath." And American Nonsense concludes, "So the Court's not getting rid of the death penalty, or of this particular method. Instead, as that three-Justice plurality writes, it's up to us if we want to eliminate the death penalty, or make its infliction less barbaric."
Climate change: In a speech Wednesday, President Bush called for "realistic long-term and intermediate goals" to stem carbon emissions, setting 2025 as a target date for stopping the growth of greenhouse gases. Liberals say it's not enough; conservatives say it's too much.
Calling Bush's announcement a "political earthquake," Iain Murray fumes on National Review's Corner, "[A]ny mention of mandatory emissions limits amounts to an invitation to a cap and trade regime at the very least. Once you've conceded that, then you have an open invitation not to something weaker, but to something stronger than Lieberman-Warner. And it's just crazy to propose something that will raise energy prices when we stand on the brink of a recession!" Real Clear Politics' Tony Blankley shudders to think how this can empower Democrats: "This is important. Whatever restraint likely to be exercised by the Democratic Party majority next year will be induced by the political fear that the Republicans would be able to say I told you so if the Democrats' policies contract the economy and put yet more people out of work. That will give them political cover for the entire program, which, whatever it may try to do regarding 'global warming,' certainly will give governments and international organizations vastly more control over the United States economy."
But liberals are just jaded. Quebec socialist Abdul-Rahim worries, "Reduction targets would be preferable, but that cannot be expected from an American president, not at this stage. Let us hope that in the long run this will be the beginning of a long-term, hard-hitting strategy to help remedy climate change." And Kate Sheppard at the American Prospect's Tapped dismisses the speech as "more hot air," pointing out that Bush is calling for decisions about emissions control to be made by politicians, not scientists.
Bidisha Banerjee is the San Francisco-based co-author of a forthcoming Yale Climate and Energy Institute/Centre for International Governance Innovation report on scenario planning for solar radiation management. She is collaborating on a geoengineering game and has written about geoengineering governance for Slate and the Stanford Journal of Law, Science, and Policy.