On Wednesday, the Sixth Circuit issued a decision which is so patently lawless, so obviously violates the limits placed on habeas corpus by Congress and the Supreme Court, as to be beyond belief. The 2-1 decision in the case of Getsy v. Mitchell effectively arrogates to a federal habeas court the power to conduct intracase proportionality review and commute a death sentence because the judges think that a co-defendant who got life was more culpable. Congress has limited federal habeas to enforcing clearly established federal law as determined in Supreme Court precedents. The precedents claimed as clearly establishing this rule are Furman v. Georgia and Enmund v. Florida, neither of which establishes a rule that is even in the ballpark. The decision also creates a new rule on habeas corpus, in clear violation of the Supreme Court's decision in Teague v. Lane.
No competent judge could seriously believe that this decision is within the authority of the court. This is raw defiance. Hopefully, the Sixth Circuit now has a majority of judges who understand and respect the limits of their authority and will correct this disgrace of a decision en banc. If not, it is a prime candidate for another spanking via summary reversal by the Supreme Court.