The SCOTUS Decision To Execute Tsarnaev

Looks like Dzhokhar Tsarnaev – the surviving half of the brother bombers of the Boston Marathon — will be put to death … eventually.

In 2013, he and his sibling, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, planted a bomb at the finish line of the Boston Marathon that killed three people – including an 8-year-old boy – and wounded and maimed scores of others.  Ironically, Dzhokhar ran over and killed his older brother as they were fleeing from the police. 

In terms of fair disclosure, I lean to being against capital punishment – but I have waffled back and forth on the issue over the years.  Which merely suggests that I do not have a firm commitment one way or the other.

But I have been consistent in one matter.  If capital punishment is the legally prescribed punishment for heinous crimes, I believe that it should be carried out.  That is the will of the people who support those laws – and the juries and the courts that prescribe that punishment.  As a conservative, I give a lot of power to the manifest will of the people, even when I may be in a minority.

That is why I generally disapprove of commutations and pardons by governors unless there is overwhelming evidence of innocence or injustice.  I was particularly critical when Illinois Republican Governor George Ryan – a man I knew very well personally and once admired – summarily commuted the death sentences of every inmate on death row without consideration of the specific cases.  He did it in a failed public relations attempt to avoid prison for his own crimes.  He failed in that.  That was the act of an authoritarian, not a small-r republican.  He literally nullified hundreds of court decisions by thousand of jurors.

Reliance on the will of the people is also why I do not generally support removing people from Congress – and even taking away their committee assignments – by political action.  That is up to the people to select their representative.  I do approve of the recall process – which should be an option for all public offices.  But I digress.

My main concern with the death penalty as it functions is that it goes contrary to the Constitution’s assurances for speedy justice.  The prolonged appeal process is an abomination.  It may benefit the criminal, but it does not produce justice for victims and the loved ones of victims.  It prolongs their pain and retards their healing.

Tsarnaev had a right to appeal his conviction.  But that is the weakness in the justice system – not as the right, itself, but how it functions.  It allowed Tsarnaev to live much longer than true justice would have – nine years and counting.  

The problem with the appeal process is that it is not based on law or the facts of the case.  The primary tool used by criminal defense attorneys is … delay … delay … delay.   They generally know that they cannot win appeals on the merits, so they just prolong the process for years and even decades.  It is an intolerable offence to any concept of justice – and is maintained largely for the financial benefit of the lawyers.  Mostly paid for by the taxpayers.

There is no doubt as to what Tsarnaev did.  He murdered three innocent people, injuring and disabling many others.  In a just world, Tsarnaev would have been executed years ago.  

Even though delayed for too long, Tsarnaev will face execution for his crime – but I am betting it will not be in the near future even yet.  And he could even get commuted to life in prison if the right governor gets elected.  And he could even wind up walking the streets against – as did Nathan Leopold in one of the most famous murder cases in American history.

As a footnote, I am also bothered that the 6-to-3 decision by the Supreme Court broke along political party lines — once again establishing that the Supreme Court is never independent of politics.  It also makes me wonder why the progressive Democrat justices place their political opinions above the Constitution, the rule-of-law  and “swift and certain” justice.

So, there ‘tis.

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