Two more SCOTUS cases muddy the waters in death penalty and life without parole cases

posted at 4:41 pm on January 25, 2016 by Jazz Shaw

There were a couple of pieces of criminal sentencing news from the SCOTUS this week which are worth a quick look. The first deals with what may rightly be viewed as a rebuke to Justice Breyer’s recent calls for a complete revisiting of the death penalty question, clearly with an eye toward doing away with it nationally. In Pennsylvania, Shonda Walter had petitioned the court to toss out any possibility of being put do death, but the court refused to even hear the request. (NBC News)

The Supreme Court is rejecting a Pennsylvania inmate’s appeal to consider banning the death penalty across the United States.

The justices did not comment Monday in turning away a challenge from death row inmate Shonda Walter.

Walter’s appeal plays off Justice Stephen Breyer’s call in an impassioned dissent in June to re-evaluate the death penalty in light of problems involving its imposition and use.

Shonda Walter my not be a particularly sympathetic plaintiff to bring such a case since she struck 83-year-old Pearl Harbor veteran James Sementelli 66 times with a hatchet, killing him. Some people simply need to be put down. But just because they refused to hear this case, that doesn’t mean that others aren’t on the way. The attempt by the plaintiff was far too broad here and had virtually nothing to do with her specific case.

The second case – one which the court did hear and rule on – exists a bit more on the margins of the question of crime and punishment. In 2012 the Supreme ruled that mandatory life without parole sentences couldn’t actually be mandatory in the case of juvenile offenders, extending that ruling to all future challenges as well. This week they made it retroactive, applying to those under the age of 18 who had previously been sentenced under these guidelines.

More than a thousand inmates in the nation’s prisons who were sentenced as juveniles to life without the possibility of parole can now challenge those punishments, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday.

The decision extended a 2012 ruling, which invalidated future life-without- parole sentence for juvenile murderers, to all such offenders who were given life sentences in the past.

This case has to do with Henry Montgomery, now in his fifties, who has been in jail since he shot and killed a sheriff’s deputy when he was 17 years old. (SCOTUSblog wrote about the case here last year.) This one wasn’t specifically about the sentence Montgomery received so much as the question as to whether or not the state court had the right to refuse to to amend the sentence after the court’s 2012 ruling I mentioned above. Apparently they decided that it was a federal issue and they overruled Louisiana. This opens the door for more than a thousand other convicts sentenced under similar guidelines.

Not all cases are created equal, but at the age of 17 there shouldn’t be much question about being eligible for life without parole in the murder of a law enforcement officer. After all, we allow 17 year olds to drive, enlist in the military and do all manner of things. But the call has been made, so you can expect to see a flood of challenges coming from all over the country after that one.

SCOTUS


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The opinions of SCOTUS opinions that do not cite the part of the Constitution that:

1. Specify their authority to change law with a decision
2. Specifies that the Federal government has any standing at all to have a role in the decision (ie: no mention of the word marriage even once in the Constitution as an enumerated power)

should be taken “under advisement”

As in, it’s so “kind” of SCOTUS to have an opinion on something. But not binding (in the least) on the States to give them any weight.

ConstantineXI on January 25, 2016 at 4:48 PM

Shonda Walter my not be a particularly sympathetic plaintiff to bring such a case since she struck 83-year-old Pearl Harbor veteran James Sementelli 66 times with a hatchet, killing him. Some people simply need to be put down.

I hope she gets executed…

OmahaConservative on January 25, 2016 at 4:49 PM

The only thing wrong with the death penalty is the appeal process. Far too long and too expensive. Millions of dollars for lawyers. Takes 10-20 years just to kill a guy that should take a few minutes.

We need criminal justice reform. We have to make the death penalty much faster. It should be carried out as it used to be in the old days, within 48 hours. All the red tape needs to be eliminated. Trouble is, there is no one out there campaigning for real criminal justice reform.

HugoDrax on January 25, 2016 at 4:52 PM

In Pennsylvania, Shonda Walter had petitioned the court to toss out any possibility of being put do death, but the court refused to even hear the request. (NBC News)

If the court did hear it, it would be a shonda.

Attila (Pillage Idiot) on January 25, 2016 at 4:56 PM

“particularly sympathetic plaintiff” is not how I would describe her, Jazz.

How about maximum evil demon? Works for me.

platypus on January 25, 2016 at 4:58 PM

Brian M Rosenthal @brianmrosenthal
BREAKING: Houston grand jury investigating fetal tissue videos declines to indict Planned Parenthood, indicts videographers instead. #txlege

everdiso on January 25, 2016 at 4:59 PM

We need criminal justice reform. We have to make the death penalty much faster. It should be carried out as it used to be in the old days, within 48 hours. All the red tape needs to be eliminated. Trouble is, there is no one out there campaigning for real criminal justice reform.

HugoDrax on January 25, 2016 at 4:52 PM

I’m for that, but it also has to include serious reforms for prosecution, including severe penalties for prosecutors who misuse the law to maliciously prosecute (ie: Mike Nifong, Angela Corey, Marilyn Mosby and others).

ConstantineXI on January 25, 2016 at 4:59 PM

Just super

bazil9 on January 25, 2016 at 5:02 PM

Shonda Walter my not be a particularly sympathetic plaintiff to bring such a case since she struck 83-year-old Pearl Harbor veteran James Sementelli 66 times with a hatchet, killing him. Some people simply need to be put down.

Down South the expression is “some folk need killing.” This scumbag needs killing.

rbj on January 25, 2016 at 5:02 PM

Brian M Rosenthal @brianmrosenthal
BREAKING: Houston grand jury investigating fetal tissue videos declines to indict Planned Parenthood, indicts videographers instead. #txlege

everdiso on January 25, 2016 at 4:59 PM

And another reason for prosecutorial reform. The grand jury wouldn’t have done this if it hadn’t been handpicked by a corrupt prosecutor and misused for the purpose.

The prosecutor responsible should be charged and tried.

ConstantineXI on January 25, 2016 at 5:04 PM

. “Some people simply need to be put down”

Like a rabid dog-stat

bazil9 on January 25, 2016 at 5:04 PM

Hanging in the public square should be the norm or death by firing squad would be even better with closeups of blood and brains being spattered all over the place. Take the body out and throw it in a place where the buzzards can devour it. Also televise the buzzards eating it until the bones are all that is left. Then televise the rodents eating the bones. Do all of this on a split screen showing partial birth abortion with the baby being thrown in a trash can. Then run the names, faces and addresses and party affiliation of those who oppose the death penalty and those who support infanticide.

they lie on January 25, 2016 at 5:04 PM

Down South the expression is “some folk need killing.” This scumbag needs killing.

rbj on January 25, 2016 at 5:02 PM

That’s what will happen if SCOTUS interferes in the death penalty.

More perps will get shot during the commission of their crimes rather than arrested and tried.

ConstantineXI on January 25, 2016 at 5:05 PM

Brian M Rosenthal @brianmrosenthal
BREAKING: Houston grand jury investigating fetal tissue videos declines to indict Planned Parenthood, indicts videographers instead. #txlege

everdiso on January 25, 2016 at 4:59 PM

Full story here:
http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Harris-grand-jury-indicts-pair-behind-Planned-6782865.php

It’s not entirely clear from the article but I believe this is in relation to the CMP videos.

Tlaloc on January 25, 2016 at 5:06 PM

Then run the names, faces and addresses and party affiliation of those who oppose the death penalty and those who support infanticide.

they lie on January 25, 2016 at 5:04 PM

Murder the innocent. Let the guilty (who mostly could be Obama’s son) walk.

It’s an indefensible contradiction.

ConstantineXI on January 25, 2016 at 5:07 PM

Full story here:
http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Harris-grand-jury-indicts-pair-behind-Planned-6782865.php

It’s not entirely clear from the article but I believe this is in relation to the CMP videos.

Tlaloc on January 25, 2016 at 5:06 PM

It’s also as clear a violation of the First Amendment as any I can think of.

ConstantineXI on January 25, 2016 at 5:07 PM

It’s also as clear a violation of the First Amendment as any I can think of.

ConstantineXI on January 25, 2016 at 5:07 PM

How so, they were indicted for tampering with government records.

Tlaloc on January 25, 2016 at 5:09 PM

Murder the innocent. Let the guilty (who mostly could be Obama’s son) walk.

It’s an indefensible contradiction.

ConstantineXI on January 25, 2016 at 5:07 PM

Not really since no person is murdered in an abortion.

The argument against the death penalty is a simple one- a number of cases have turned out to have reached the wrong conclusion through fraud, bias, or simple error. With imprisonment the falsely convicted can be released and recompensed. With death penalty there’s no way to make up for the error.

Tlaloc on January 25, 2016 at 5:12 PM

We need criminal justice reform. We have to make the death penalty much faster. It should be carried out as it used to be in the old days, within 48 hours. All the red tape needs to be eliminated. Trouble is, there is no one out there campaigning for real criminal justice reform.

HugoDrax on January 25, 2016 at 4:52 PM

Hugo, I and likely many others agree with the ‘life for a life’ punishment. Trouble is, so much corruption at so many levels, from the streets to too many LEOs, to the attorneys and the courts… How can a juror/judge administer _justice_ when lies, obfuscations, ‘legal maneuvering’, and such are employed. Too many people are dishonest, and commit disgusting acts. Would You want to answer to a Higher Power about a misguided vote to death row for an innocent?

I’ll never wear a judge’s robes in this system, and plan to be absent for any juried murder trial. The whole system is in a mess; I’ll take care of my own family. BTW, I have experienced evil and injustice by the system and Nasty felons/perps/tools, and would vote for dismantling of the corrupt system followed by solid reconstruction according to +2500 year-old Lawful principles.

KissMyAmericanFlag on January 25, 2016 at 5:13 PM

Not all cases are created equal, but at the age of 17 there shouldn’t be much question about being eligible for life without parole in the murder of a law enforcement officer. After all, we allow 17 year olds to drive, enlist in the military and do all manner of things.

This.

ladyingray on January 25, 2016 at 5:16 PM

Hanging in the public square should be the norm or death by firing squad would be even better with closeups of blood and brains being spattered all over the place. Take the body out and throw it in a place where the buzzards can devour it. Also televise the buzzards eating it until the bones are all that is left. Then televise the rodents eating the bones. Do all of this on a split screen showing partial birth abortion with the baby being thrown in a trash can. Then run the names, faces and addresses and party affiliation of those who oppose the death penalty and those who support infanticide.

they lie on January 25, 2016 at 5:04 PM

Would you please run for president? I’d like to vote for you.

platypus on January 25, 2016 at 5:16 PM

Not really since no person is murdered in an abortion.

Tlaloc on January 25, 2016 at 5:12 PM

Except the innocent baby that is slaughtered, you sub-human piece of garbage!

TopFuel425 on January 25, 2016 at 5:18 PM

THIS:

Hanging in the public square should be the norm or death by firing squad would be even better with closeups of blood and brains being spattered all over the place. Take the body out and throw it in a place where the buzzards can devour it. Also televise the buzzards eating it until the bones are all that is left. Then televise the rodents eating the bones. Do all of this on a split screen showing partial birth abortion with the baby being thrown in a trash can. Then run the names, faces and addresses and party affiliation of those who oppose the death penalty and those who support infanticide.

they lie on January 25, 2016 at 5:04 PM

TopFuel425 on January 25, 2016 at 5:19 PM

Where in the Constitution is the age limit for the death penalty set?

If you can’t find it, that’s because it’s not in there.

The strongest argument for an Article V conviction is that judges on SCOTUS can arbitrarily decide to invalidate laws across the nation based on nothing more than their own opinion.

The next strongest argument is that administrative agencies can make their own laws and enforce them, with no checks or balances at all.

There Goes the Neighborhood on January 25, 2016 at 5:20 PM

Not really since no person is murdered in an abortion.

Tlaloc on January 25, 2016 at 5:12 PM

lol What a numbskull. It’s amazing how effective propaganda is on weak, tiny liberal brains.

darwin on January 25, 2016 at 5:20 PM

Not really since no person is murdered in an abortion.

Tlaloc on January 25, 2016 at 5:12 PM

I got a question for you.
I was pro-life until I watched an PB abortion video, in my 20’s.
Do you not see or feel anything? I literally cried and felt ill.
You must have no soul.

bazil9 on January 25, 2016 at 5:21 PM

I meant pro-choice

bazil9 on January 25, 2016 at 5:21 PM

No answer..big surprise.

bazil9 on January 25, 2016 at 5:24 PM

KissMyAmericanFlag on January 25, 2016 at 5:13 PM

the problem as I see it is too many criminals, not too many innocent people in jail. So if we have to err, I would rather err on the side of execution, than the system we have now. I am not going to let the incompetence or the malfeasance of government make me side with convicted criminals.

HugoDrax on January 25, 2016 at 5:32 PM

The argument against the death penalty is a simple one- a number of cases have turned out to have reached the wrong conclusion through fraud, bias, or simple error. With imprisonment the falsely convicted can be released and recompensed. With death penalty there’s no way to make up for the error.

Tlaloc on January 25, 2016 at 5:12 PM
——————-

Shh, stop making sense. While I do agree that some crimes are so horrible the perp deserves death I also realize that it’s better a 1000 guilty people go free than one innocent person be put to death in error. It has been proven that our court system makes tons of mistakes so it’s very hard to push for a death penalty when the chances of the Government getting it wrong is so high.

Politricks on January 25, 2016 at 5:34 PM

Do you not see or feel anything?

bazil9 on January 25, 2016 at 5:21 PM

Sure I feel things, but I’m also not a slave to emotions. Emotions are treacherous and fickle.

Tlaloc on January 25, 2016 at 5:35 PM

No answer..big surprise.

bazil9 on January 25, 2016 at 5:24 PM

Patience, grasshopper.

Tlaloc on January 25, 2016 at 5:36 PM

the problem as I see it is too many criminals, not too many innocent people in jail. So if we have to err, I would rather err on the side of execution, than the system we have now. I am not going to let the incompetence or the malfeasance of government make me side with convicted criminals.

HugoDrax on January 25, 2016 at 5:32 PM
—————–

As long as it’s someone else right? If YOU were the person being falsely accused. Would you volunteer your life just to prop up the current system?

Politricks on January 25, 2016 at 5:37 PM

I also realize that it’s better a 1000 guilty people go free than one innocent person be put to death in error.

That is a philosophy. My philosophy is more of a reverse of that. An innocent person who was put in jail, or even executed, has never raped anyone afterwards. And since there are way more murderers than incompetent juries, on the whole, my philosophy solves more problems than does yours.

HugoDrax on January 25, 2016 at 5:39 PM

As long as it’s someone else right? If YOU were the person being falsely accused. Would you volunteer your life just to prop up the current system?

Politricks on January 25, 2016 at 5:37 PM

That is an emotional argument. You are appealing to a person’s emotions.

If I was convicted of a crime I actually did commit, I still would not want to be put in jail or executed, so my personal feelings don’t invalidate the philosophy.

HugoDrax on January 25, 2016 at 5:41 PM

Theoretically the problem with the death penalty is the preciousness of life and the cruelty of taking it. But what does that say about Ms. Walter’s crime? Wasn’t her victim’s life precious? Even, arguably, more so than hers? What could be more cruel than her crime? For that matter, what could be more cruel than abortion without a compelling cause.

The Court is not just, nor do its decisions deliver the most basic form of justice in cases of life and death. Without a perception that the courts are just, why should people respect them or be willing to trust them to deliver fair verdicts? I used to be a lawyer, but I can’t respect the system or the way cases are now decided with an eye toward politics (usually leftist) and the justices’ personally emotional responses without reference to legal logic or consistency.

flataffect on January 25, 2016 at 5:41 PM

Tlaloc, if it isn’t emotional, why do you hold the convenience of the mother over the right to life of the child? On what basis do you definitively and absolutely choose the former over the latter?

Count to 10 on January 25, 2016 at 5:42 PM

Tlaloc, if it isn’t emotional, why do you hold the convenience of the mother over the right to life of the child? On what basis do you definitively and absolutely choose the former over the latter?

Count to 10 on January 25, 2016 at 5:42 PM

Because it’s a false question, there is no child, there’s only a pregnant woman. That condition eventually results in a child (barring mishap or abortion) but that’s not the same as saying a blastocyst is a human being (because, you know, it’s not).

Tlaloc on January 25, 2016 at 5:48 PM

That is a philosophy. My philosophy is more of a reverse of that. An innocent person who was put in jail, or even executed, has never raped anyone afterwards. And since there are way more murderers than incompetent juries, on the whole, my philosophy solves more problems than does yours.

HugoDrax on January 25, 2016 at 5:39 PM

By that logic it’s better for us all to die because that will prevent all rapes ever.

Tlaloc on January 25, 2016 at 5:50 PM

Not really since no person is murdered in an abortion.

Tlaloc

Of course not…they commit suicide. And then PP dismembers and sells those non-people parts, lol.

xblade on January 25, 2016 at 5:51 PM

Who aborts blackso

Count to 10 on January 25, 2016 at 5:51 PM

Blastocysts? Who gets an abo

Count to 10 on January 25, 2016 at 5:53 PM

Because it’s a false question, there is no child, there’s only a pregnant woman. That condition eventually results in a child (barring mishap or abortion) but that’s not the same as saying a blastocyst is a human being (because, you know, it’s not).

Tlaloc on January 25, 2016 at 5:48 PM

I see. So when can the pregnant woman officially say “my baby”?

6 months?

7 ?

8 ?

8.5 ?

9 months?

darwin on January 25, 2016 at 5:56 PM

By that logic it’s better for us all to die because that will prevent all rapes ever.

Tlaloc on January 25, 2016 at 5:50 PM

If there is enough evidence to convict us all of murder, then yes, we should all go. Once society agrees on a threshold for evidence, and that threshold is reached in either your case or mine, then yes, we should be executed.

Again, you are trying to apply an emotional angle to what is purely logical.

HugoDrax on January 25, 2016 at 5:56 PM

Blastocysts aren’t what you are arguing Thlaloc. You are arguing for the killing of viable childr

Count to 10 on January 25, 2016 at 5:58 PM

Blastocysts aren’t what you are arguing, Thlaloc. You are arguing viable or near viable infants.

Count to 10 on January 25, 2016 at 5:59 PM

I agree, do away with life in prison. Implement more life in noose.

RblDiver on January 25, 2016 at 6:01 PM

I see. So when can the pregnant woman officially say “my baby”?

darwin on January 25, 2016 at 5:56 PM

She can say it whenever she wants but what she’s really talking about are her hopes for the future.

Tlaloc on January 25, 2016 at 6:06 PM

Again, you are trying to apply an emotional angle to what is purely logical.

HugoDrax on January 25, 2016 at 5:56 PM

But it’s not logical, your position is based purely on fear of crime.

Tlaloc on January 25, 2016 at 6:07 PM

So, do you have a name for your blastocyst yet?

darwin on January 25, 2016 at 6:07 PM

I’m for that, but it also has to include serious reforms for prosecution, including severe penalties for prosecutors who misuse the law to maliciously prosecute (ie: Mike Nifong, Angela Corey, Marilyn Mosby and others).

ConstantineXI on January 25, 2016 at 4:59 PM

Amen!

I’d add Len Kachinsky and Ken Kratz to your list.

Conservative Samizdat on January 25, 2016 at 6:07 PM

Blastocysts aren’t what you are arguing, Thlaloc. You are arguing viable or near viable infants.

Count to 10 on January 25, 2016 at 5:59 PM

Where did I say that exactly?

Tlaloc on January 25, 2016 at 6:08 PM

She can say it whenever she wants but what she’s really talking about are her hopes for the future.

Tlaloc on January 25, 2016 at 6:06 PM

Yes. “Honey, the blastocyst is kicking … come feel”!

darwin on January 25, 2016 at 6:09 PM

Blastocysts aren’t what you are arguing Thlaloc. You are arguing for the killing of viable childr

Count to 10 on January 25, 2016 at 5:58 PM

Blastocysts aren’t what you are arguing, Thlaloc. You are arguing viable or near viable infants.

Count to 10 on January 25, 2016 at 5:59 PM

(Switching to laptop)
Hot Air, your smart phone ap is buggy and randomly kicking me out of the comment function.

Count to 10 on January 25, 2016 at 6:09 PM

Where did I say that exactly?

Tlaloc on January 25, 2016 at 6:08 PM

You were talking about abortion-abortion, right?
Nobody aborts a blastocyst. By the time an abortion happens, the fetus is pretty well developed, and by the time we get to the abortions that Republicans are actually trying to legislate on right now, we are talking about viable or near viable infants. Where do you draw the line?
If you believe that all rights are granted to children by their mothers in the process of child birth, just go ahead and say it.

Count to 10 on January 25, 2016 at 6:13 PM

You were talking about abortion-abortion, right?
Nobody aborts a blastocyst. By the time an abortion happens, the fetus is pretty well developed, and by the time we get to the abortions that Republicans are actually trying to legislate on right now, we are talking about viable or near viable infants. Where do you draw the line?
If you believe that all rights are granted to children by their mothers in the process of child birth, just go ahead and say it.

Count to 10 on January 25, 2016 at 6:13 PM

I believe that rights are granted to the child once it is a child, i.e. once it is a complete organism unto itself and not merely a part of the mother.

Besides which your premise if flawed because prolifers have been pushing to criminalize all abortions, or on a good day they allow for exceptions for incest and rape. SO, no, we’re not just talking about third trimester abortions but about all abortions at every stage of development.

Tlaloc on January 25, 2016 at 6:22 PM

Not really since no person is murdered in an abortion.
Tlaloc on January 25, 2016 at 5:12 PM

No one is tortured when they’re water boarded either.

Skywise on January 25, 2016 at 6:24 PM

On a related topic to our off topic tangent:

http://www.paho.org/hq/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=11605&Itemid=0&lang=en

Apparently there’s a mosquito spread virus that’s expected to spread over the americas in general. Symptoms sound basically flu like but there may be an added risk to pregnant women:

Pregnant women should be especially careful to avoid mosquito bites. Although Zika typically causes only mild symptoms, outbreaks in Brazil have coincided with a marked increase in microcephaly—or unusually small head size—in newborns. Women planning to travel to areas where Zika is circulating should consult a healthcare provider before traveling and upon return. Women who believe they have been exposed to Zika virus should consult with their healthcare provider for close monitoring of their pregnancy. Any decision to defer pregnancy is an individual one between a woman, her partner and her healthcare provider.

Tlaloc on January 25, 2016 at 6:26 PM

No one is tortured when they’re water boarded either.

Skywise on January 25, 2016 at 6:24 PM

The abortion tangent isn’t enough, now you want to bring in your love of torturing innocent people too?

Tlaloc on January 25, 2016 at 6:27 PM

Because it’s a false question, there is no child, there’s only a pregnant woman. That condition eventually results in a child (barring mishap or abortion) but that’s not the same as saying a blastocyst is a human being (because, you know, it’s not).
Tlaloc on January 25, 2016 at 5:48 PM

Except that it IS a human being.

What do you think it is? A dog? Is it not a human being yet because it doesn’t have the right body mass? The “right” number of cells?

If a woman cuts the blastocyst out of another woman to raise it as her own it is a “human being” then?

Skywise on January 25, 2016 at 6:29 PM

The abortion tangent isn’t enough, now you want to bring in your love of torturing innocent people too?
Tlaloc on January 25, 2016 at 6:27 PM

And yet I’ve disproved your hypothesis quite eloquently… Haven’t I?

Skywise on January 25, 2016 at 6:29 PM

Tlaloc on January 25, 2016 at 6:26 PM

Why do you care about the head size of blastocysts? If the virus causes a mishap, better that the clump of cells is aborted lest it turn into a deformed human being down the road?

Or maybe mothers have to be careful with the child they’re carrying?

Skywise on January 25, 2016 at 6:32 PM

I believe that rights are granted to the child once it is a child, i.e. once it is a complete organism unto itself and not merely a part of the mother.
Besides which your premise if flawed because prolifers have been pushing to criminalize all abortions, or on a good day they allow for exceptions for incest and rape. SO, no, we’re not just talking about third trimester abortions but about all abortions at every stage of development.
Tlaloc on January 25, 2016 at 6:22 PM

Oh and, for the record, rights aren’t Granted.

Skywise on January 25, 2016 at 6:34 PM

I believe that rights are granted to the child once it is a child, i.e. once it is a complete organism unto itself and not merely a part of the mother.
Tlaloc on January 25, 2016 at 6:22 PM

That amounts to the same thing. You are drawing an arbitrary distinction where there is no real boundary. You are saying it’s okay to kill the kid tomorrow if it is still in the womb, but not today if it is pulled out of the mother first. That’s really an irrational view, based solely on your need to morally justify all abortions.

Besides which your premise if flawed because prolifers have been pushing to criminalize all abortions, or on a good day they allow for exceptions for incest and rape. SO, no, we’re not just talking about third trimester abortions but about all abortions at every stage of development.

Tlaloc on January 25, 2016 at 6:22 PM

That’s not where the national argument is, though. I’m a squish on abortion, and wouldn’t push to ban the first trimester ones (though I wouldn’t fight such a ban). Actually, I’m not really going to push for anything on abortion, I am just conflicted about it and like to discus the moral logic of it. However, as the issue of rape or incest has no baring on the rights of the child, I am totally against exceptions for those cases.

Count to 10 on January 25, 2016 at 6:35 PM

Except that it IS a human being.

What do you think it is? A dog? Is it not a human being yet because it doesn’t have the right body mass? The “right” number of cells?

Skywise on January 25, 2016 at 6:29 PM

It is human cellular material, i.e. tissue.

A human being is an organism. A fetus is not an organism, thus a fetus is not a human being.

Why isn’t it an organism? Because it can’t carry on the life processes that an organism can. It can’t breathe on it’s own and can’t digest on it’s own in particular, until fairly late in development.

Tlaloc on January 25, 2016 at 6:56 PM

And yet I’ve disproved your hypothesis quite eloquently… Haven’t I?

Skywise on January 25, 2016 at 6:29 PM

No, but you demonstrated your ignorance pretty well…

Tlaloc on January 25, 2016 at 6:57 PM

Oh and, for the record, rights aren’t Granted.

Skywise on January 25, 2016 at 6:34 PM

Once again, you are wrong, but we don’t need another tangent.

Tlaloc on January 25, 2016 at 6:57 PM

But it’s not logical, your position is based purely on fear of crime.

Tlaloc on January 25, 2016 at 6:07 PM

It’s based solely on what would reduce crime and cost to the public purse the most. I myself have no fear of crime because I live in a good neighborhood.

Again, my philosophy addresses more problems than yours. You would let 1000 guilty men go free to save one innocent man. That’s great, as a romantic ideal, but in the real world, you now have a thousand criminals preying on the public creating that many more innocent victims. My philosophy creates very few innocent victims. And at least when they are killed, they will be killed humanely.

HugoDrax on January 25, 2016 at 6:58 PM

The only thing certain about our Supreme overlords is to them the Constitution is a nuisance….

viking01 on January 25, 2016 at 7:01 PM

That amounts to the same thing. You are drawing an arbitrary distinction where there is no real boundary. You are saying it’s okay to kill the kid tomorrow if it is still in the womb, but not today if it is pulled out of the mother first. That’s really an irrational view, based solely on your need to morally justify all abortions.

The law is full of arbitrary lines. You can vote at 6,570 days old but not at 6,569 (ignoring leap years). You can drink at 7,665 days old but not at 7,664. And on and on. In order to function on the scale of a nation we have to take these nebulous matters and say ‘okay this is where we draw the line.’

That’s not where the national argument is, though. I’m a squish on abortion, and wouldn’t push to ban the first trimester ones (though I wouldn’t fight such a ban). Actually, I’m not really going to push for anything on abortion, I am just conflicted about it and like to discus the moral logic of it. However, as the issue of rape or incest has no baring on the rights of the child, I am totally against exceptions for those cases.

Count to 10 on January 25, 2016 at 6:35 PM

Whether or not you personally want to fight to outlaw all abortions it is indisputable that that is explicitly the goal of the overall prolife movement (with, as before, at best grudging exceptions for rape and incest). The maneuvering around abortion clinic regs and partial birth abortion is merely the prolifers attacking what they think are easy targets, but it’s not in anyway their intent to stop if they win those fights.

Tlaloc on January 25, 2016 at 7:04 PM

It’s based solely on what would reduce crime and cost to the public purse the most. I myself have no fear of crime because I live in a good neighborhood.

Again, my philosophy addresses more problems than yours. You would let 1000 guilty men go free to save one innocent man.

HugoDrax on January 25, 2016 at 6:58 PM

I didn’t say that. What I would do is lock up those people we have good cases against which is an extremely good inhibition to them committing further crimes (while incarcerated). You are neglecting to take into account that you are making the state itself a murderer for all intents and purposes.

Tlaloc on January 25, 2016 at 7:06 PM

It is human cellular material, i.e. tissue.

A human being is an organism. A fetus is not an organism, thus a fetus is not a human being.

Why isn’t it an organism? Because it can’t carry on the life processes that an organism can. It can’t breathe on it’s own and can’t digest on it’s own in particular, until fairly late in development.

Tlaloc on January 25, 2016 at 6:56 PM

By that definition, most of the parasites in your body are not “organisms”.

Count to 10 on January 25, 2016 at 7:14 PM

Whether or not you personally want to fight to outlaw all abortions it is indisputable that that is explicitly the goal of the overall prolife movement (with, as before, at best grudging exceptions for rape and incest). The maneuvering around abortion clinic regs and partial birth abortion is merely the prolifers attacking what they think are easy targets, but it’s not in anyway their intent to stop if they win those fights.

Tlaloc on January 25, 2016 at 7:04 PM

Intent is irrelevant here. You a fighting against reasonable restrictions.

Count to 10 on January 25, 2016 at 7:15 PM

You are neglecting to take into account that you are making the state itself a murderer for all intents and purposes.

You call it murder. I call it an error. When the state takes a life, it does so dispassionately and according to the law. That is not how a murderer takes a life.

At any rate, it is a small cost of creating a much better society. Surely, you as a progressive can appreciate that sentiment.

HugoDrax on January 25, 2016 at 7:18 PM

It is human cellular material, i.e. tissue.

A human being is an organism. A fetus is not an organism, thus a fetus is not a human being.

Why isn’t it an organism? Because it can’t carry on the life processes that an organism can. It can’t breathe on it’s own and can’t digest on it’s own in particular, until fairly late in development.

Tlaloc on January 25, 2016 at 6:56 PM

No, a fetus IS an organism from day one just like any bacterium and you can’t just waive that away by saying that it isn’t. It’s a “parasitic organism” to be sure but it’s still an individual organism that increases its likelihood of living independently of the mother with each passing hour it LIVES. Especially after the first trimester, not “fairly late” in development.

Skywise on January 25, 2016 at 7:25 PM

No, but you demonstrated your ignorance pretty well…

Tlaloc on January 25, 2016 at 6:57 PM

Aww… poor widdle Tlaloc… did you get your feelings hurt?

My statement is just as true as yours… But you seem to think my statement is false… on what grounds? Why, no grounds… because if you actually COULD defend your assertion now (which you can’t) you would be to show us how smart you think you are.

Instead of resorting to childish name calling… but then that IS the extent of your intellect, isn’t it?

Skywise on January 25, 2016 at 7:27 PM

Once again, you are wrong, but we don’t need another tangent.

Tlaloc on January 25, 2016 at 6:57 PM

Once again you can’t defend your idiotic assertions.

Because if we’re to believe your definition of rights being

granted

then we can surely grant them to blastocysts.

Which is why you won’t go there.

Skywise on January 25, 2016 at 7:29 PM

Oh and, on tangent, even though Tlaloc’s first post is off tangent…

Where does the court draw this retroactive line that juveniles should be treated as juveniles forever?

What if the definition of juveniles is changed to age 30? Does that mean that all laws on the books now fall to nearly middle aged humans?

What if the definition is changed to 10? Does that mean that 11 year olds should fall under fully adult laws?

It’s a stupid ruling – laws and rulebooks cannot and never have been able to intent and context and extenuating circumstances. That’s the whole point of having JUDGES. Because sometimes a 10 year old commits a blatantly cold and heinous murder for an XBox and sometimes the 50 year old is pushed to it after years of abuse.

Skywise on January 25, 2016 at 7:34 PM

The court struck down the death penalty once before and now we occasionally have to hear about the goings-on in the life of Charles Manson. Hopefully, they’ve learned their lesson.

Occams Stubble on January 25, 2016 at 7:51 PM

An innocent person who was put in jail, or even executed, has never raped anyone afterwards. And since there are way more murderers than incompetent juries, on the whole, my philosophy solves more problems than does yours.

HugoDrax on January 25, 2016 at 5:39 PM

So you’re pro-choice, then, because it’s fine to execute an innocent fetus, because then it will never rape anyone.

Do you have some data to back up your premise that there are way more murderers than incompetent juries?

A lot of lawyers prefer not to go in front of a jury because you never know what they will do.

It’s also asked who wants to be judged by 12 people who were too dumb to get out of jury duty.

There have also been numerous cases of prosecutorial misconduct.

And with regard to the first post, cases regarding the death penalty are almost always brought as Eighth Amendment cases – protesting cruel and unusual punishment.

talkingpoints on January 25, 2016 at 11:44 PM

In 2012 the Supreme ruled that mandatory life without parole sentences couldn’t actually be mandatory in the case of juvenile offenders.

It’s a stupid ruling – laws and rulebooks cannot and never have been able to intent and context and extenuating circumstances. That’s the whole point of having JUDGES. Because sometimes a 10 year old commits a blatantly cold and heinous murder for an XBox and sometimes the 50 year old is pushed to it after years of abuse.

Skywise on January 25, 2016 at 7:34 PM

I think the point of the ruling is that it shouldn’t be mandatory, that there should be discretion, which as you pointed out is key to justice. I didn’t read the whole decision, but the precis does not indicate that juveniles may not be sentenced to life without parole, just that such a sentence may not be mandatory.

talkingpoints on January 25, 2016 at 11:48 PM

The only thing wrong with the death penalty is the appeal process. Far too long and too expensive. Millions of dollars for lawyers. Takes 10-20 years just to kill a guy that should take a few minutes.

We need criminal justice reform. We have to make the death penalty much faster. It should be carried out as it used to be in the old days, within 48 hours. All the red tape needs to be eliminated. Trouble is, there is no one out there campaigning for real criminal justice reform.

HugoDrax on January 25, 2016 at 4:52 PM

If they really are guilty, I agree-up against the wall. But there aren’t just a few who have been wrongly convicted and exonerated. The prosecutors want convictions, not necessarily justice.

I suppose we could do what Charlie Chan said Chinese emperors used to do-ten suspects-ten heads roll…he was sure to get the guilty man.

Dr. ZhivBlago on January 26, 2016 at 3:14 AM

While I do agree that some crimes are so horrible the perp deserves death I also realize that it’s better a 1000 guilty people go free than one innocent person be put to death in error. It has been proven that our court system makes tons of mistakes so it’s very hard to push for a death penalty when the chances of the Government getting it wrong is so high.

Politricks on January 25, 2016 at 5:34 PM

I’m all for the Government getting it right; and if that means exposing prosecutors to the same jeopardies that the accused are, fine.

But we call it a “war on crime”. In any war, a few “good guys” get killed. They may be conscripts, who wanted no part of it, or innocent bystanders. We accept their deaths, to advance the common good. That “thousand guilty” might easily kill hundreds more victims. Weigh that, against the one innocent life that might be taken by a more vigorous prosecution.

One life, versus hundreds: What’s your preference?

ReggieA on January 26, 2016 at 4:00 PM