Monday, June 8, 2015

Justice Scalia's quip that the Henry Lee McCullum case exemplified the justice of execution is undercut by McCullum's exoneration. But I suppose Justice Scalia would simply say that now that they have the right guy he deserves the lethal dose. But perhaps the more important point is the significant rate of error. - gwc

Scalia’s perfect capital-punishment case falls apart

A little over two decades ago, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was dismissive of then-Justice Harry Blackmun’s concerns about the death penalty. In fact, Scalia had a case study in mind that demonstrated exactly why the system of capital punishment has value.
As regular readers may recall, Scalia specifically pointed to a convicted killer named Henry Lee McCollum as an obvious example of a man who deserved to be put to death. “For example, the case of an 11-year-old girl raped by four men and then killed by stuffing her panties down her throat,” Scalia wrote in a 1994 ruling. “How enviable a quiet death by lethal injection compared with that!”
For Scalia, McCollum was the perfect example – a murderer whose actions were so heinous that his crimes stood as a testament to the merit of capital punishment itself.
Yesterday, McCollum was pardoned. Scalia’s perfect example of a man who deserved to be killed by the state was innocent. North Carolina’s News & Observer reported:
Gov. Pat McCrory on Thursday pardoned two half-brothers who were exonerated of murder after spending three decades in prison.
The governor took nine months to make the decision, saying he thoroughly reviewed the pardons sought by Henry McCollum and Leon Brown. Both men are intellectually disabled.
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