Not much newsworthy out of the Supreme Court today. Friday's conference didn't include any of the cases we are following. The orders list is here. The Court took a money laundering case, Cuellar v. United States, 06-1456, discussed at SCOTUSblog and SL&P.
In Smith v. Arizona, Justice Breyer has a dissent from denial of certiorari on the perennial Lackey claim, that long delays before execution are cruel to the defendant. It is more than a little weird than a judge can opine, presumably with a straight face, that something caused by the defendant and the courts over the state's vehement objection can entitle the defendant to set aside the state's judgment against him.
If you really want to do something about this, Justice Breyer, the path is quite clear. First, dismantle the system of federal micromanagement of the penalty phase of state capital cases that followed in the wake of Gregg v. Georgia. Keep Gregg itself, requiring the states to adopt systems that fix the Furman problem, but leave the details of administration of those systems to the state courts.
Second, genuinely enforce the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. If Lindh v. Murphy had been correctly decided, AEDPA would have applied to Smith's 1999 federal habeas case. In that case, the Ninth Circuit overturned the decision of the state courts because 2 of the 4 federal judges who heard the case disagreed with the state court. The district judge and the dissenting judge in the Court of Appeals thought the state court was right. The state decision was reasonable and shouldn't have been overturned under AEDPA. This execution should have been carried out seven years ago.