Thursday, February 02, 2006

Alito Breaks With Conservatives, Opposes Mo. Execution

At issue: a death-row inmate has an appeal now pending, on the question of whether lethal injection constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas, no doubt monumentally disgusted with the spectacle of endless appeals, voted to lift the stay-of-execution now in force in that man's case. But Sam Alito voted to leave the stay in force--along with five other Justices.

I can guess what's happening: Mr. Justice Alito looks at this case, and says to himself that maybe the courts ought to go ahead, hear the appeal, and then give it the contempt it deserves. That kind of thing sets precedents. But having a man go to execution before the appeal is decided suddenly renders the case moot--and any precedent that might be set would not last.

In short, Samuel J. Alito is a compulsive i-dotter and t-crosser. And he's my kind of man.

Under him, everyone will get his day in court, after all. But that does not mean that the court will ultimately decide in his favor. If Alito had voted to let the prisoner go free, then I'd worry. He didn't. He just said to let the appeal go through, and that the State of Missouri had no compelling reason to stop the legal process.

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