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RE: Why Justice Scalia Wants to Execute the Innocent
by Decius at 9:14 pm EDT, Aug 18, 2009

Is this a crazy view?

Mr Sullivan,

I'm not sure what Conor Clarke's email address is so I'm emailing you. Mr. Clarke suggests that Scalia and Thomas are not crazy in holding the view that federal courts are powerless to help a convicted but demonstrably innocent death row inmate.

I think this is one of those moments when there is a clear division between right and wrong. The basic principle that the United States of America does not execute people who are demonstrably innocent should not be subject to debate. We must not become so committed to upholding our procedural rules that we contemplate killing innocent people simply because that is what the rules say that we are supposed to do. In such a case, it is the rules that must bend, and it is the responsibility of everyone involved to ensure that they are bent. The alternative is simply evil and history should have taught us all that lesson by now.

Reasonable people can disagree in such a case about exactly how the rules ought to be bent, but this passage in the dissent seems to reach toward the conclusion that they cannot and must not be bent, and that position is simply wrong and incompatible with life in a mature and free society that recognizes the fallibility of human institutions.

Thank you,
Tom Cross
Atlanta, GA

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