15. April 2019 · Categories: Analysis, Law, Politics

In 1991, William Lynn a minister in Alabama was murdered in his home. His wife was badly injured but survived. One of the two people convicted of murdering William Lynn was Christopher Price who is now on death row, scheduled for execution and the subject of a controversial decision by the Supreme Court. The controversy started when Price asked for an alternative method of execution.

The State of Alabama is claiming that Price missed the deadline for choosing to be executed by nitrogen hypoxia instead of the state’s default, three-chemical injection which can subject the inmate to excruciating pain.

A federal district court in Alabama halted the execution on Thursday, citing “new evidence”. Of course we don’t know what that evidence is yet but it seems at this point I can’t seen any other reason other than possible discrepancies in Alabama’s claim. It doesn’t help that on that same day at 9:00 PM, Alabama officials asked the Supreme Court to overrule the district court order so they could proceed with the execution anyway. That’s when Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Beyers issued a request to stay the execution until after the court has a chance to meet in the morning and discuss the lower court decision before overruling it.

The New York Times reported today on that decision by the 5-member, conservative, Supreme Court majority to deny that request and green light the execution.

Maybe this all seems like a big fuss over something as trivial as whether or not a convicted murderer gets to choose the method in which he is executed. Or maybe this story is more about the deliberate choice the state is making to execute someone in the most painful way they can. If that’s case, this is a huge deal because we are talking about the line that separates civilized people from barbarians.

Here’s what the New York Times reported…

Justice Breyer’s dissent reflects that things have quickly gotten ugly at the court since the replacement of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who was a moderating force in capital cases, with the more conservative Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh.

The divide between the two sides has hardened in recent weeks, with conservative justices growing increasingly frustrated over what they considered excessive delays in carrying out executions. The liberal justices have in turn accused the majority of reckless haste that could give rise to executions so painful as to amount to torture.

So, the conservative judges are basically saying they’re getting tired of these delays… Well… Is it not their JOB to deal with these things? If they can’t handle it or simply can’t be bothered then shouldn’t that mean it’s time for them to retire?

Or is this actually about vengeance? It turns out that the contention within the court itself was already enough to expire the Alabama death warrant, necessitating a re-issue and a new execution date, possibly delaying the execution by another 30 days. The reaction by some clearly exposes a vindictive streak in the community that I hope isn’t affecting the bench.

The article quotes Attorney General Steven T. Marshall following the event.

“Tonight, in the middle of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, the family of Pastor Bill Lynn was deprived of justice,” Attorney General Steven T. Marshall said. “They were, in effect, revictimized by a killer trying to evade his just punishment.”

I realize that many people are inclined to focus on the crime but the perpetrator in this case HAS been removed from society and is in prison waiting to be executed. Does it really matter if the execution is delayed for a few hours, or days or even weeks? Do these delays really amount to a “revictimization”? I don’t think so and I find it disturbing that people are so ready to call a frustrated demand for vengeance a “revictimization”.

Of course this could all be solved very easily, Execute Price with nitrogen hypoxia. Done. The execution would not have been delayed and the courts would not have even been involved. But Alabama doesn’t want to execute him that way – Alabama wants to execute him the more painful way. That is the ONLY reason why it ever got to the courts.

Indeed, the concern the conservatives apparently don’t want to hear is nothing less than a founding principal of our western culture. Institutionalized in Common Law, adapted into the English Bill of Rights and again into the U.S. Constitution as part of the 8th Amendment, the idea that for centuries has been held as the line between barbarians and civil society… that a justice system not be allowed to inflict cruel and unusual punishment. There’s literally no valid reason to rush the execution if this civil right is still in question.

Yes, the court could have delayed the execution – (the inmate isn’t going anywhere). Yes, the court could have met in person to discuss the matter in a constitutional context. Yes, Alabama could have found another, less painful method of execution. None of these things would have reversed the conviction or cancelled the punishment, neither would they have been difficult to do or costly to afford. So exactly what excuse does that leave? Clearly, if the state is willing to take this to the Supreme Court *something* is functioning as a driving motivation. It’s sad to realize that the closest thing to a logical excuse for such haste is the type of vengeance so overtly pronounced in Attorney General Steven T. Marshall’s quote.

So this is where I really want to make some clear distinctions. A justice system can serve one of two purposes. It can enforce the law or it can satisfy the vindictive. Granted, some law-enforcing decisions can also be vengeance for some, but should vengeance ever be the primary motive, much less to the point of breaking the law?

It makes logical sense to execute those who have committed heinous crimes, especially if it’s been a pattern for them because of the risk they pose to society. But I think a civil society really needs to understand the magnitude of taking a human life. One such society might insure that every alternative be considered first, execution last. One such society might also understand the sobriety of the task and not to celebrate it, exploit it or be impetuous with it because you’re to old and tired to do your job as a Supreme Court Justice for a constitutional republic.

I wish more people understood that the U.S. Constitution is not the top-level law of the land. In fact, it doesn’t even apply to the people at all. The top-level law that applies to the people is a completely different set of rules called the U.S. Code. This enormous set of laws is established and enforced by the government and applies to the people. In other words, the U.S. Code contains laws that WE have to follow. The Constitution is the reverse… a minimal set of laws that the GOVERNMENT has to follow… Not the people… the government.

So when hate speech is shut down by a private school it is NOT a violation of the Constitution’s 1st Amendment, because a private school is NOT part of the government and therefore NOT obligated to the Constitution. Nor is it a violation of the Constitution’s 2nd Amendment when a restaurant insists on a “no firearms policy” because the restaurant is NOT part of the government either. Same thing for bakeries and flower shops that reserve a right to refuse service based on bigotry.

So… when people advocate smaller government and more privatization they are effectively advocating a weaker constitution by shifting matters into private hands with no obligation to the rights established in the Constitution. The oligarchs won’t tell you this because the oligarchs want better control over you without interference from the Constitution.

Just, something to think about

Continuing to express my concerns in a meaningful way… This letter went out to the 11th Congressional District Representative Mark DeSaulnier and to my two Senators, Diane Feinstein and Kamala Harris. 


Dear Mr. DeSaulnier ,

I just learned about a congressional procedure that’s been called “strip and insert”, where a bill that is focused on one issue is passed through one or more points of approval, such as a vote in the House or Senate and then the issue of focus is stripped out and replaced with an entirely different issue without changing the approval status of the bill. In the Indiana Assembly this is happening to HR1214, which was designed to allow for the sale and possession of CBD oil for medicinal use and having been approved by both chambers the references to CBD oil is being “stripped” out while new references to guns are being inserted.

The excuse lawmakers have is that another bill, SB52 is already well on it’s way to legalizing the sale and possession of CBD oil, making HR1214 a redundant effort. The problem that concerns me is that once HR1214, was determined to be unnecessary to the cause of legalizing CBD oil, it wasn’t destroyed. Instead, the bill in it’s current state of approval was kept around so that other lawmakers can pick it up and make it about something else, such as allowing the sale and possession of guns.

I’m not so concerned about CBD oil or guns in Indiana… HB1214 is just an example. My concern is that lawmakers are allowed to use this process to bypass due-process by using a bill that was already approved for something else, thereby allowing them to effectively pass laws without representation.

Please consider a new law that will prohibit this decidedly undemocratic practice. I believe the American people are asking for more honest and upfront representation and to that end there seems little choice but to stop these games.
Thank you,

Nigel Deans
Concord, CA.


I first learned about Indiana’s HR1214 through this article by Bob Segall for WTHR.

Recently, Jeff Sessions addressed the California Peace Officers’ Assn. in Sacramento with an announcement that he is going to sue the State of California over the sanctuary laws. During his speech he declared that California doesn’t have a right to refuse his orders because “Federal law is the supreme law of the land.”

Now, I’m sure the little weasel is hoping people will just accept what he said without a challenge, but I’m not one of those people. 😉

What we have here is a form of deception based on a supporting argument that is true by itself but has no relevance whatsoever to the the point being made.

Yes, there is indeed a “Supremacy Clause” in the Constitution… Article VI, Clause 2 says…

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land;

Clearly, this confirms that federal law *IS* the “Supreme Law of the Land”. But the Constitution is also very clear about who has the power to MAKE these supreme federal laws… Article I gives that power to Congress, not the President. Powers delegated to the President are listed in Article II and do not include ANY legislative power. According to the Constitution, Trump and Sessions are supposed to be enforcing the federal laws that come from Congress, not their own executive orders. BTW, this is precisely what separates a constitutional republic from a dictatorship.

So, the real question is… does the sanctuary provided by California actually violate any federal laws legislated by Congress? From what I can tell, there isn’t any and Sessions of course neglects to point out any such specifics, relying instead on broad-brush symbolism where deception won’t be so obvious. It appears that the only rules that sanctuary in California is violating are the orders and policies of the Trump administration, NOT federal laws.

And as is often the case on the heels of deception, irrational but dramatic symbolism draws the curtains as Sessions says “I would invite any doubters to Gettysburg, and to the graves of John C. Calhoun and Abraham Lincoln.”

Right. Because their graves will explain how the Executive Branch can overrule a state and not be unconstitutional. If his simple-minded point is to say the Civil War confirms the federal government overrules the state government, I invite him to read the 10th Amendment.

http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-jeff-sessions-california-20180307-story.html