Thursday, April 26, 2007

Roberts Hits Stevens Over Death Penalty

by Mark Sherman - April 26, 2007 - Forbes

Stevens, leading a five-justice majority, said Texas state courts should have set aside the death sentences because the Supreme Court had made clear that such sentences could not stand if they were imposed as a result of flawed jury instructions that Texas used until 1991.

Roberts, a dissenter in six of the court's 10 most recent rulings, wrote that contrary to being clear, Supreme Court death penalty law over the years has been a "dog's breakfast," a mess of "divided, conflicted and ever-changing analyses." State courts would find it difficult, if not impossible, to discern federal law from those rulings, he said.

Roberts concluded his 16-page dissent on a sarcastic note, at odds with his amiable image. "Still, perhaps there is no reason to be unduly glum," Roberts said, taking direct aim at Stevens. "After all, today the author of a dissent issued in 1988 writes two majority opinions concluding that the views established in that dissent actually represented 'clearly established' federal law at that time. So there is hope yet for the views expressed in this dissent."

"Encouraged by the majority's determination that the future can change the past, I respectfully dissent," he concluded.

Five to four. That is not law. That is politics. "The rule of judges" continues to embarrass the tyrants on our courts.


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