Morning Report 3/1/05 We Can’t Execute Youths, Supreme Court Says


IN A 5-4 Supreme Court decision this morning, the United States removed itself from the axis of evil nations that execute juveniles.

Grounded, at least for now, is spoiled rich kid George W. Bush‘s notion of criminal justice for the youth of America.

Until today’s majority opinion, written by Anthony Kennedy in Roper v. Simmons, the U.S. was part of an exclusive club—the others are China, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran, Pakistan, Yemen, Nigeria, and Saudi Arabia—that are known to have formally executed kids since 1990.

Antonin Scalia, of course, wrote a dissent, but that’s hardly a shock: He goes duck-hunting all the time with the likes of Dick Cheney. Smart as Scalia is supposed to be, he’s been sitting in a blind his whole professional life. Check out the great animated short Justice is Duckblind.

Texas is one of 19 states in which kids 17 and under could be put to death—until the current court, in one of its last gasps before becoming even more conservative, ruled. Expect Bush to throw a tantrum.

Despite undisputed and growing evidence elsewhere, such as in Illinois, where a conservative Republican governor halted executions, Bush has maintained that none of more than 100 people he executed in his five years as Texas governor were innocent.

And of course, Bush did his usual thorough job when he was the most prolific hangman in U.S. history. Sister Helen Prejean (Dead Man Walking) dissects Bush’s goobernatorial execution in the New York Review of Books, a piece I mentioned previously in a January 5 Bush Beat item, “Speeding Gonzales,” about Dubya’s chief counsel in Texas. You know who I mean.

For more, read Alan Berlow‘s indefatigable reporting on Guv Bush’s executions. That and other pieces, including colleague Nat Hentoff‘s, are referenced in this January 6 Bush Beat item, written during the embarrassing Gonzales confirmation hearing travesty.

Today, we have the Supreme Court ruling against the wishes of Bush and new Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. That will change when Bush promotes Gonzales or some other unqualified mook to the high court. It’s only a matter of time.

While we’re waiting for Bush’s brand of democracy to spread across the planet like an oil slick, consult for a bevy of factoids and quotes on the subject of Dubya and death. As Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times noted in October 2000:

Bush has written that “by far the most profound” decision he or any governor can make is whether to proceed with an execution. “I get the facts, weigh them thoughtfully and carefully, and decide,” Bush wrote. What he did not say is that he normally does this in 15 minutes.