Gorsuch’s First Major Vote Breaks Tie to Allow Arkansas Execution

From: freebeacon.com,  by Charles Fain Lehman,  on Apr 21, 2017

New Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch cast the deciding vote Thursday to permit Arkansas to proceed with the execution of Ledell Lee.

The state intends to carry out at least three more executions before its supply of a controversial execution drug expires, Bloomberg reported.

Gorsuch joined the right of the court–Justices Roberts, Thomas, and Alito–as well as Republican-appointed swing-vote Anthony Kennedy in voting to allow the execution to go forward. The court’s liberal wing–Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan–dissented, each voting to grant at least one of the stays.

“Apparently the reason the state decided to proceed with these eight executions is that the ‘use by’ date of the state’s execution drug is about to expire,” wrote Justice Breyer in explaining his vote. “That factor, when considered as a determining factor separating those who live from those who die, is close to random.”

Lee’s execution was one of several halted by lower courts that were subsequently allowed to go forward by the Supreme Court. Justice Samuel Alito, who is responsible for emergency appeals from Arkansas, initially ordered a temporary hold to allow consideration of new filings by Lee.

Lee, who had consistently maintained his innocence, was seeking DNA tests that his lawyers said could prove his claim.

The court had earlier in the week declined to step in and overturn the Arkansas Supreme Court’s stay of execution in the case of two condemned men whose cases bear resemblance to an Alabama case the Supreme Court will soon consider.

Initially, Arkansas had intended to put Lee and seven other men to death in the span of just 11 days, racing against the clock of the expiration of one of the drugs in the state’s chemical execution cocktail. The pace prompted several legal challenges, resulting in the executions being stayed by lower courts. Gorsuch and his colleagues’ votes overrode these stays, rejecting arguments that the pace and manner of Arkansas’ executions made them unjust.

The potentially expiring drug is the powerful sedative Midazolam, which has drawn criticism because of its involvement in several botched executions, notably the death of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma in 2014. The drug can allegedly cause torturous executions, with condemned prisoners visibly twisting and contorting in pain.

The Supreme Court examined the use of Midazolam in the 2015 case Glossip v. Gross, ultimately ruling that its use did not violate the Eight Amendment’s prohibition on “cruel and unusual punishment.” Nonetheless, the condemned men’s attorneys argued that the use of Midazolam might lead to an unnecessarily painful death, especially given the rate at which the executions were to be carried out. According to journalists present, Lee exhibited no visible response after the lethal injection was administered.

Lee was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1993 murder of Debra Reese, who he robbed, strangled, and beat to death with a tire iron. Lee’s family members were present at the execution and said they believed Lee deserved to be executed for his crime.

Lee was pronounced dead at 11:56 PM CDT on Thursday. He is the first inmate Arkansas has executed since 2005.


It is reassuring to see our newest Supreme Court Justice cast his vote to allow an execution to proceed, I hope his subsequent opinions continue to support conservative positions. Since Arkansas hasn’t executed anyone since 2005, any deterrence related to execution has evaporated. If we are to deter murder, we need to instill in the perpetrators the concept that: they will be caught, they’ll stand trial, and the verdict will be carried out swiftly.

It’s said that in order for punishment to be a deterrence, it must be swift, certain, and severe.

Severe is the only one of those requirements that our current execution policies meet. It is not certain, given the number of appeals that could go on for years, even in the face of unassailable evidence reviewed in their trials. No, my beef is the overall time required to adjudicate the verdict. In this case, Ledell Lee was found guilty and given the death penalty for his murder of a young woman in 1993. He was convicted in 1995. That amounts to 22 years between his conviction and the verdict being carried out. Is that supposed to be “swift“?

There’s one of your answers to why so many murders are committed each year in the U.S., we have no deterrent factor, not when it could come twenty years down the road – if at all.

I believe that if our system of justice is to survive – and help us survive – it really does need to be swift, certain, and the punishment severe. We need to rely on our laws, our courts, and our juries to fairly try an accused and come to a verdict that is fair and fitting. Yes, it is possible to wrongly convict someone, but much less so today than in years past. I believe that we could establish a reward system whereby if a wrongly executed person was later found to be innocent, he or she should be honored as a hero of the system, having given up their lives for our justice system, and awarded a sizeable judgment. No, that won’t bring back the wrongly executed individual, but that is the price we must pay to prevent truly guilty murderers from being released.

We must streamline our justice system and a large part of that is to reestablish punishment as a deterrence by making it SWIFT, CERTAIN, and SEVERE.





Categories: Political


8 replies

  1. Like bescher said, how painful it is should be the least of our concerns, just as it was when he took another life. Back in the days of the electric chair, they didn’t stop using it because of any malfunctions that caused extreme pain.

    Good on Gorsuch for following the law. He is going to find himself in the position of being the tiebreaker for years to come.

    Sitting on death row for 22 years is far from swift justice, which has become a thing of the past. In those years they had plenty of time to come up with new DNA, so that doesn’t cut it as an excuse to delay again.


  2. I’ve sort of made a hobby of studying the whole crime and punishment dynamic in this country and after seeing many cases where people have been wrongly convicted I’m probably more sympathetic to the plight of the wrongly convicted than most people, but I think the SCOTUS got this one right and it’s a good start for Gorsuch.

    The comments by Justice Breyer demonstrate what’s wrong with the liberal mind and why no liberals belong on this court or any other court, ever. Breyer said: “Apparently the reason the state decided to proceed with these eight executions is that the ‘use by’ date of the state’s execution drug is about to expire. That factor, when considered as a determining factor separating those who live from those who die, is close to random.”

    This is the type of dishonesty and false logic we continually deal with in liberals. The reason the state decided to proceed with these executions is because these people were found guilty of heinous crimes. There’s nothing random about that whatsoever. The fact that the date was scheduled to avoid the expiration of the euthanizing drug only meant that these barbarians got less of a lucky reprieve than other barbarians typically get. Boo hoo. I’m sure any lucky reprieves their victims might have had were measured only in seconds.

    According to one TV report: “…[Ledell] Lee was suspected of other crimes by authorities, including the strangulation and rape of another woman, but that trial ended in a hung jury. He was also convicted of two other rapes, reported THV.”

    “Lee was convicted for the rape of two Jacksonville women and was accused of the murder and rape of 22-year-old Christine Lewis,” reports WZZM, which notes that prosecutors dubbed him a “super predator.”

    “In November 1989, Lewis was abducted from her home where she was later raped, strangled, and eventually killed. Her body was later found at an abandoned home inside a closet. That trial ended in a hung jury,” reports WZZM, which adds that prosecutors didn’t retry him in that murder only because he received the death penalty in the slaying of Reese.

    This is the type of person the ACLU wastes its time and resources on because they have such big hearts. What makes me unsympathetic to Lee is that the obvious thing to do, if you’re truly innocent, is to request DNA testing of the biological evidence from the rape/murder victims. This would definitively prove guilt or innocence, and yet it appears that request wasn’t made in all the years Lee was in prison. Why? He did, at the last minute, request DNA testing on a hair from the crime scene and blood on his shoe, but a perceptive judge (a conservative, no doubt) saw this for the calculated delaying tactic it really was. Again, the puzzling failure to request DNA testing from the rape kit was definitive proof for me.

    >>“I believe that we could establish a reward system whereby if a wrongly executed person was later found to be innocent, he or she should be honored as a hero of the system…and awarded a sizeable judgment.”

    Hero or tragic victim? We have a duty, as a society and as human beings, to ensure that innocent citizens don’t become collateral damage of a sloppy justice system. I’ve seen many cases of wrongful convictions now, and I can only think of two where human error, negligence or corruption weren’t to blame. The one and only key to fixing that is to hold those responsible accountable for their actions, just as we hold doctors accountable for negligence or malpractice because people’s lives depend on them, and yet those responsible for wrongful convictions are rarely held to account. Only the taxpayers, it seems, ever bear the cost of others’ mistakes and misdeeds.


    • I understand when you say that the only key to fixing the execution of an innocent citizen is to hold whoever is responsible accountable – I agree, but my point was to address that innocent person that was put to death wrongly not the person responsible.


  3. Well, ooh-rah for Gorsuch.

    I agree that the drawn-out nature of the appeals process makes the death penalty virtually useless as a deterrent. Further, it’s cynically exploited by lawyers to drag out and delay executions, at which point they turn around and point to those very delays as a reason why the death penalty is unjust. Talk about bootstrapping!

    I’ve long advocated what I call a “1-1-1” system. The defendants get one appeal, which must encompass all their appellate issues. It has to be filed within one year of conviction. The appellate court has one year to render its decision. At the end of that process, if the conviction is upheld, the execution is to be carried out immediately.


    • I could buy your 1-1-1 concept, Brian, but you know that the liberal left won’t. In fact, their whole concept is to delay, delay, delay, until everyone associated with the case is dead (except the killer) and then they try to get him released because he is old and in poor health.


  4. Why does it take so long to do these is laughable. Cruel and unjust punishment when I’m killing someone? That is also laughable oh gee save me while your killing me it hurts so please stop don’t allow it to happen. I know I’m being cruel but this is what it comes down to.
    They didn’t care a crap about the victim, didn’t care that they could be around another twenty years


    • I suspect that most of us conservatives would want a murderer executed as soon as possible after conviction and if the execution hurts a little, we don’t care. This “painless” execution is a bleeding heart liberal’s wet dream, they’re the ones worried about hurting a killer.


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