October 4, 2018

LEFT?:

John Roberts, Swing Vote (MARK JOSEPH STERN, OCT 02, 2018, Slate)

Vernon Madison has spent 33 years in solitary confinement awaiting execution for a crime he can no longer remember. A series of strokes have left the 68-year-old death-row inmate with severe cognitive impairment due to vascular dementia. He cannot see, or walk without aid, or recite the alphabet past the letter G, or process basic information. He struggles to speak and suffers incontinence. A growing portion of his brain tissue is dead. And Alabama would like to put him to death as soon as possible.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Madison v. Alabama, Madison's last, best chance to avoid lethal injection. Justice Anthony Kennedy, who often swung left on capital punishment, is gone; no one has yet replaced him, and if the court deadlocks 4-4, Madison will die. It's a grim default that Chief Justice John Roberts seems eager to avoid. Throughout Tuesday's arguments, Roberts appeared eager to broker a compromise that would spare Madison's life by conceding that dementia may exempt him from the death penalty. The case provides an early glimpse of the post-Kennedy court--with the chief justice embracing his role as the new swing vote.

Administering capital punishment justly ought not be a left/right issue.

Posted by at October 4, 2018 5:09 PM

  

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