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The death penalty

Developments during 2008

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2008 developments:

  • 2008-JAN-07: U.S. Supreme Court hears death penalty case: Two inmates on death row have challenged Kentucky's lethal injection procedure. They claim that it violates the eight amendment of the U.S. constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.  Justice Antonin Scalia openly ridiculing the case, saying "This is an execution, not surgery." 1 More details.
  • 2008-MAR-24: NE: Bill to end executions in Nebraska: Legislators are scheduled to start debate on Bill 1063 which would replace the death penalty with life imprisonment without parole. In 2007, a similar bill fell one vote short of advancing. A subsequent bill fell two votes short. Also in 2007, the state Supreme Court banned the use of the electric chair in the state. So Nebraska currently has no legal method of killing prisoners.

    Amy Miller, a American Civil Liberties Union-Nebraska attorney and president of the board of Nebraskans Against the Death Penalty, said: "We're fighting a proactive battle because we want to eliminate the death penalty. But people who want to keep the death penalty have to come up with a new recipe for death. We need to just say we're done and walk away from it." Attorney General Jon Bruning said a bill to authorize lethal injection will be introduced during or before 2009. 2
  • 2008-MAR-26: NE: Bill defeated: After 4 1/2 hours of often emotional debate, state senators voted 28-20 against Legislative Bill 1063.
  • 2008-MAR-26: TX: U.S. Supreme Court rules President Bush his exceeded authority: The 1963 Vienna Convention stipulates that foreigners should have access to their consulate when arrested. The U.S. is a signatory to this convention. The International Court ruled in 2004 that inmates who had been denied such access should be given hearings to determine if their lack of access had affected the outcome of their cases. President Bush ordered state courts to conform to international law. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals refused, arguing that the president does not have the authority to issue such an order. By a vote of 5 to 3, the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the Texas court, asserting that state courts are not bound by international treaties unless Congress passes enabling legislation. 3
  • 2008-NOV-20: World: UN passes resolution against death penalty: A resolution passed at the United Nations General Assembly that affirmed a 2007 measure. Both asked all governments to establish a moratorium on executions "with a view to abolish the death penalty." It passed with 105 members in favor, 48 against and 31 abstentions. The United States, China, Iran, North Korea and Sudan all took a pro-death stance by objecting to the resolution. This places the U.S. in interesting company, with the world's most vicious dictatorships that have a proven record of contempt for human rights   4


The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Supreme Court hears challenge of lethal injection procedure," Knight Ridder Tribune Business News, 2008-JAN-07, at: http://www.romingerlegal.com/
  2. Leslie Reed, "No urgency this time on executions," McClatchy Tribune Business News, 2008-MAR-24, at: http://www.romingerlegal.com/
  3. Bennett Roth, "Supreme Court trumps executive power: President can't force a new trial for Mexican in 1993 murders," McClatchy Tribune Business News, 2008-MAR-26, at: http://www.romingerlegal.com/
  4. News item, the Toronto Star, 2008-NOV-21, Page AA2.

Copyright © 2008 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
First posted: 2008-JAN-08
Last updated: 2008-NOV-21
Author: B.A. Robinson

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