Maybe Death Really Is Different . . .

Slate's blog on legal issues.
April 17 2008 11:58 AM

Maybe Death Really Is Different . . .

One of the most interesting aspects of the fractured opinions in yesterday’s Baze v. Rees decision on lethal injections is that they almost read like an elaborate MMPI result. Some are almost stunning for how much individual judicial temperament and personality shine through. Justice Stevens concurrence is remarkable, for instance, for its late-in-his-career assessment that in the wake of "extensive exposure to countless cases for which death is the authorized penalty" which (quoting Justice White in Furman ) makes only "marginal contributions to any discernible social or public purpose," he’s concluded that capital punishment violates the Eighth Amendment. Justice Scalia concurs separately just to respond that Stevens’ conclusion is "insupportable as an interpretation of the Constitution" and that his "policy analysis . . . fails on its own terms." He then holds out Stevens conversion on the death penalty as the height of "rule by judicial fiat," and closes by scoffing that Stevens has subordinated legal scholarship, the work of legislators, and the preferences death penalty supporters to his own personal experience which "reigns over all."

/blogs/convictions/2008/04/17/maybe_death_really_is_different/jcr:content/body/slate_image

You all probably remember this movie from the first time we saw it, in Kansas v. Marsh . Still, I wonder whether it’s the death penalty itself that brings out these very pointed, personal reflections and stinging personal attacks from the justices, of if there is something about the rather dishonest way we are having the whole conversation about it that gets them so riled up.  

Dahlia Lithwick writes about the courts and the law for Slate. Follow her on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Even When They Go to College, the Poor Sometimes Stay Poor

Republicans Want the Government to Listen to the American Public on Ebola. That’s a Horrible Idea.

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Tom Hanks Has a Short Story in The New Yorker. It’s Not Good.

Brow Beat

Marvel’s Civil War Is a Far-Right Paranoid Fantasy

It’s also a mess. Can the movies do better?

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Watching Netflix in Bed. Hanging Bananas. Is There Anything These Hooks Can’t Solve?

The Procedural Rule That Could Prevent Gay Marriage From Reaching SCOTUS Again

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 20 2014 7:13 PM Deadly Advice When it comes to Ebola, ignore American public opinion: It’s ignorant and misinformed about the disease.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
  Life
Outward
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 6:32 PM Taylor Swift’s Pro-Gay “Welcome to New York” Takes Her Further Than Ever From Nashville 
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 20 2014 4:59 PM Canadian Town Cancels Outdoor Halloween Because Polar Bears
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.