Every state Supreme Court should so rule! I shall never forget a case I read shortly after law school, at least 40 years ago, where the Appellant had laid out all of the statistics – a ton of statistics – showing how the death sentence is racially biased. Yet the U S Supreme Court did NOT rule it unconstitutional .. .and I thought: “what a bunch of nitwits”! It is worse now. The only reason the current conservative nitwits on the Supreme Court might rule the right way when they get this issue … and they will… is the growing realization that thousands of innocent people are convicted every year. “Heaven forbid we execute an innocent white man!” – although we have executed innocent blacks forever.
Excerpts from the Article:
The Washington state Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously struck down the death penalty there as unconstitutional and “racially biased,” a ruling that makes it the latest in a string of states to abandon capital punishment in recent years.
The order will not stop any scheduled executions because Washington state has already frozen its death penalty under a moratorium by Gov. Jay Inslee (D) in 2014. But the court’s order, which declares that death sentences in the state should be converted to life in prison, is a sweeping rejection of capital punishment at a time when it is being used less nationwide and as states are struggling to obtain the drugs needed for lethal injections.
In their opinion, the justices focused on what they said was the unequal use of the death penalty, describing it as a punishment meted out haphazardly depending on little more than geography or timing.
“The death penalty is invalid because it is imposed in an arbitrary and racially biased manner,” the justices wrote. “While this particular case provides an opportunity to specifically address racial disproportionality, the underlying issues that underpin our holding are rooted in the arbitrary manner in which the death penalty is generally administered.”
Chief Justice Mary E. Fairhurst wrote the opinion and four justices concurred, one in the result only. Four other justices signed a concurrence saying they agreed with “the majority’s conclusions and its holding invalidating the death penalty” but adding other state constitutional factors that they said “compel this result.”
The arguments outlined in Washington have echoes of what Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer has said in questioning whether the death penalty itself is constitutional. In a 2015 dissent joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Breyer called the death penalty’s use “capricious, random, indeed, arbitrary” and said for those sentenced to death, it was “the equivalent of being struck by lightning.” Breyer echoed that point in 2016 when discussing California’s use of the death penalty, saying it similarly was unreliable, arbitrary and plagued by delays.
After the decision, Gregory’s attorneys, Neil Fox and Lila Silverstein, both issued statements praising the court’s move. Fox said “Washington now joins the overwhelming majority of the world’s democracies in its respect for human life,” while Silverstein said the justices “properly ruled the Washington Constitution does not tolerate such an unfair system.”
Executions nationwide have declined steadily in recent years, with several states or courts doing away with the practice. The Washington ruling makes the state the 20th without the death penalty, according to records kept by the Death Penalty Information Center.
“Today’s decision by the state Supreme Court thankfully ends the death penalty in Washington,” Inslee said in a statement after the order Thursday. “The court makes it perfectly clear that capital punishment in our state has been imposed in an ‘arbitrary and racially biased manner,’ is ‘unequally applied’ and serves no criminal justice goal. This is a hugely important moment in our pursuit for equal and fair application of justice.”
“The court recognized that Washington state’s death penalty is broken,” he said. “We should act quickly to remove the death penalty from state law once and for all. Next session, I will again propose legislation repealing the death penalty, replacing it with life in prison without the possibility of parole.”