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Who Decides?

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Patrick J. Buchanan has this editorial at Human Events, titled "The Greenhouse Effect":


There is another and larger issue here.

It is the question not of what is decided, but of who decides.

Whether Citizen Stevens abhors the death penalty should not matter to Justice Stevens. For if the constitution provides for a death penalty, and capital punishment has been imposed throughout our history, and the form it takes does not violate the ban on cruel and unusual punishment, Stevens' decision should be automatic, no matter his personal beliefs.

What Stevens is signaling, however, is that his altered opinion of the death penalty may cause him to start voting against it -- that is, to substitute his personal view of capital punishment for the decision of the elected leaders who have voted to retain it.

3 Comments

Although I agree with the point Buchanan makes in the part quoted in the post, the article is irksome in some other ways. In the first sentence, Buchanan confuses Baze v. Rees with Kennedy v. Louisiana: "Last week, the Supreme Court held, 7 to 2, that Kentucky's method of lethal injection remains a constitutional way of executing the rapist of a child." Not a good way to start.

I also think that making fun of Greenhouse's name is petty and juvenile, and neither Buchanan nor Judge Silberman do their cause any good with such antics.

"Aging and weak-minded" is a cheap shot. Buchanan is no spring chicken himself, after all.

I agree with your points Kent. What interested me about this article was his point about who decides these hotly contested issues as well as Justice Stevens' opinion in the Baze case.

The entry from Wikipedia entitled "Rule of Law" offers a worthwhile counterpoint to the concurrence of Justice Stevens in Baze, of which Justice Scalia notes that "Purer expression cannot be found of the principle of rule by judicial fiat."

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