SCOTUS blocks 2nd Texas execution in a week

In what is normally a very unusual move for the Supreme Court, they have now stepped in twice to put the brakes on execution of convicted killers in the Lone Star State. This time it’s the case of Cleve Foster.

For the second time in a week, the Supreme Court intervened in the final hours to block a planned execution in Texas.

Cleve Foster, a 47-year-old former Army recruiter, was scheduled to die for the rape and murder of a woman he met at a Fort Worth bar in 2002. Foster has maintained that another man who was with him at the bar committed the crime.

The high court issued a stay of execution Tuesday and said it wanted more time to decide whether to hear Foster’s appeal.

Twice this year, the court stopped Foster’s execution because of a dispute involving the drugs to be used for the lethal injection.

One note of interest here is that the arguments being made in each of these cases don’t seem to center around whether or not the convicted men are actually guilty. The appeals are nibbling around the edges on other issues. In the previous case, that of Duane Edward Buck, the defense argued that the jury process had been tainted when the prosecutor used allegedly racially charged language when making the case for execution rather than life in prison without parole. In this latest case, prior delays were encountered, not over whether or not to execute Foster, but over which drugs to pump into his system to finish the job.

I don’t believe either of these cases would be receiving the national attention they’re currently seeing were it not for the fact that Rick Perry is running for president and, as Texas governor, is involved in the process. Combine that with his comments at the last GOP debate (and the reaction of the Tea Party audience present) and you’ve got a formula for a media feast. Reporters went out of their way to try to get a reaction from Perry when the first decision was announced, but didn’t get much to work with in return.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Friday that he respected the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to block the execution of a Houston murderer who would be the 236th person put to death on his watch.

Perry, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, and Texas judges had refused to grant requests for a reprieve from convicted murderer Duane Edward Buck.

“Whether or not he is guilty is not in question,” Perry told reporters while campaigning at a Coca-Cola bottling plant in rural western Iowa. “Clearly he was guilty of murdering two people in the state of Texas. Whether or not the jury process was tainted will be decided by the Supreme Court, and we will respect that.”

What were they expecting Perry to do… stomp his feet and hold his breath until he turned blue? This is all part of the normal appeals process, as the governor is clearly aware. He’s doing his job, the defense is doing theirs, and the Supreme Court is within their constitutional powers to review the case. Obviously the governor has to respect their decisions. Were he to do anything else he’d wind up looking not terribly presidential, don’t you think?