The death penalty
Developments during 2008
- 2008-JAN-07: U.S. Supreme Court hears death penalty case: Two
inmates on death row have challenged Kentucky's lethal injection procedure.
They claim that it violates the eight amendment of the U.S. constitution's
ban on cruel and unusual punishment. Justice Antonin Scalia openly
ridiculing the case, saying "This is an execution, not surgery."
1 More details.
- 2008-MAR-24: NE: Bill to end executions in Nebraska: Legislators
are scheduled to start debate on Bill 1063 which would replace the death
penalty with life imprisonment without parole. In 2007, a similar bill fell
one vote short of advancing. A subsequent bill fell two votes short. Also in
2007, the state Supreme Court banned the use of the electric chair in the
state. So Nebraska currently has no legal method of killing prisoners.
Amy Miller, a American Civil Liberties Union-Nebraska attorney and
president of the board of Nebraskans Against the Death Penalty, said:
"We're fighting a proactive battle because we want to eliminate the death
penalty. But people who want to keep the death penalty have to come up with
a new recipe for death. We need to just say we're done and walk away from
it." Attorney General Jon Bruning said a bill to authorize lethal injection
will be introduced during or before 2009. 2
- 2008-MAR-26: NE: Bill defeated: After 4 1/2 hours of often emotional debate, state senators voted 28-20
against Legislative Bill 1063.
- 2008-MAR-26: TX: U.S. Supreme Court rules President Bush his exceeded
authority: The 1963 Vienna Convention stipulates that foreigners should
have access to their consulate when arrested. The U.S. is a signatory to
this convention. The International Court ruled in 2004 that inmates who had
been denied such access should be given hearings to determine if their lack
of access had affected the outcome of their cases. President Bush ordered
state courts to conform to international law. The Texas Court of Criminal
Appeals refused, arguing that the president does not have the authority to
issue such an order. By a vote of 5 to 3, the Supreme Court upheld the
decision of the Texas court, asserting that state courts are not bound by
international treaties unless Congress passes enabling legislation. 3
- 2008-NOV-20: World: UN passes resolution
against death penalty: A resolution passed at the United
Nations General Assembly that affirmed a 2007 measure. Both asked all
governments to establish a moratorium on executions "with a view to abolish
the death penalty." It passed with 105 members in favor, 48 against and 31
abstentions. The United States, China, Iran, North Korea and Sudan all took
a pro-death stance by objecting to the resolution. This places the U.S. in
interesting company, with the world's most vicious dictatorships that have a
proven record of contempt for human rights 4
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- "Supreme Court hears challenge of lethal injection procedure," Knight
Ridder Tribune Business News, 2008-JAN-07, at:
- Leslie Reed, "No urgency this time on executions," McClatchy Tribune
Business News, 2008-MAR-24, at:
- Bennett Roth, "Supreme Court trumps executive power: President can't force a
new trial for Mexican in 1993 murders," McClatchy Tribune Business News,
- News item, the Toronto Star, 2008-NOV-21, Page AA2.
Copyright © 2008 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
First posted: 2008-JAN-08
Last updated: 2008-NOV-21
Author: B.A. Robinson