For the second time in a week the US Supreme Court has stayed the execution of a prisoner. Just a few hours before the scheduled execution of Cleve Foster in Texas, the Supreme Court stayed his execution. The High Court is considering whether to grant Certiorari in Foster’s case. Cleve Foster, an army recruiter, was convicted of raping and murdering a woman he met at a Fort Worth bar. This is the third stay granted by the Supreme Court in this case. Foster maintains his innocence.
[notice]Update September 22, 2011: Supreme Court denied the request for stay of execution for Troy Davis who was executed September 21, 2011.[/notice]
The Supreme Court also granted a stay of execution earlier this week in the case of Duane Edward Buck, who argues his sentence was tainted by expert testimony that he was more likely to re-offend because he is black.
It is reported that Texas Governor Rick Perry has “overseen more executions than any governor in modern history”.
[important]All of these cases have one common thread: Was there a flaw in the judicial process that was fundamentally unfair to the Defendant. It is unusual that the Supreme Court would stay three (3) executions in such a short span of time. Is the Court engaged in a trend, or is it just a matter of coincidental timing?[/important]
It would not be the first time that the death penalty has been highly criticized and scrutinized by the Supreme Court. For instance The Court’s opinion in Furman v. Georgia held that the imposition of the death penalty in these cases constituted cruel and unusual punishment and violated the Constitution. In over two hundred pages of concurrence and dissents, the justices articulated their views on this controversial subject. Only Justices Brennan and Marshall believed the death penalty to be unconstitutional in all instances. Other concurrences focused on the arbitrary nature with which death sentences have been imposed, often indicating a racial bias against black defendants. The Court’s decision forced states and the national legislature to rethink their statutes for capital offenses to assure that the death penalty would not be administered in a capricious or discriminatory manner.
Some critics say that when the Supreme Court re-instituted the death penalty in 1976 in a brief per curiam opinion, it assumed a lot of virtue and goodness in the present and future participants of the criminal justice system. the death penalty has always been a hotly debated and disputed issue. In recent years we have seen numerous death row inmates freed because DNA evidence proved there innocence, or at least provided much reasonable doubt.
The real question is will the Supreme Court kill off the death penalty or severely limit its application? This is an issue that affects many of us, we welcome your comments and views on this subject.