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The Meaning of the Supreme Court’s Troy Davis Ruling

August 18th, 2009 by Celeste Fremon


Both the LA Times and the New York Times have interpretive stories
on the significance of yesterday’s Supreme Court decision that will allow death row inmate, Troy Davis, to present in court evidence that he and his lawyers believe will exonerate him.

This is a significant case, and one that looked all but lost for quite some time.

Here is the opening of the story by the NY time’s Adam Liptak:

The Supreme Court on Monday ordered a federal trial court in Georgia to consider the case of Troy Davis, who is on death row in state prison there for the 1989 murder of an off-duty police officer. The case has attracted international attention, and 27 former prosecutors and judges had filed a brief supporting Mr. Davis.

Seven of the witnesses against Mr. Davis have recanted, and several people have implicated the prosecution’s main witness as the actual killer of the officer, Mark MacPhail.

The Supreme Court’s decision was unsigned,
only a paragraph long and in a number of respects highly unusual. It instructed the trial court to “receive testimony and make findings of fact” about whether new evidence clearly established Mr. Davis’s innocence.Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who joined the court this month, did not participate.

The decision set off a sharp debate between Justices John Paul Stevens and Antonin Scalia about Supreme Court procedure, the reach of a federal law meant to limit death row appeals and the proper treatment of claims of innocence.

“The substantial risk of putting an innocent man to death,” Justice Stevens wrote in a concurrence joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer, “clearly provides an adequate justification for holding an evidentiary hearing.”

But Antonin Scalia thought otherwise:

“This court has never held,” Justice Scalia wrote, “that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is ‘actually’ innocent.”

It is a creepy and rather chilling point of view, but arguably legally correct [as the rest of the story details]. And it is precisely the legal and moral ambiguity that makes this case so interesting.

You can read the rest here.

Meanwhile, the LA Times has a similar take on the case’s significance:

Legal experts were taken aback by the rare move
, which came during the court’s typically sleepy summer recess. A number of experts said it could indicate that the federal justice system may be loosening its conservative position toward death penalty appeals.

Federal court rulings in recent years had been making it harder for inmates to win writs of habeas corpus, or pleas for their release. Congress also raised the bar in 1996 with the Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, passed in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing.

But the increasing prevalence of DNA evidence is changing some minds.

“I think we’re in a new day, and there’s obviously a split,” said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, a nonprofit in Washington that has been critical of the application of the death penalty.

Okay, but here’s the really important part.

Davis’ last-ditch appeal to the high court rested on a claim of “actual innocence” – that is, an appeal based on evidence that purportedly shows he did not commit the crime, as opposed to an argument based on an unconstitutional flaw in his prosecution.

The Supreme Court has never determined whether an execution can be barred because an inmate proved actual innocence.

In other words, the court was fine about staying an execution because either the prosecution did something wrong or because the inmate’s defense was inadequate…..but this “actual innocence” thingy? Nah. They didn’t do, like, actual, no-kidding, this-guy-really-didn’t-do-it variety innocence.

Well, it appears that Monday’s decision may be paving the way for a much needed change.

The courts opinion and the dissent may be found here.

UPDATE: Although newly minted Justice Sotomayor did not vote in the Davis ruling, which was 6-2, she did vote for a last minute stay of execution on Tuesday, but was in the minority. The rejected stay was for an Ohio hit man where there was no issue of innocence. The stay was based on the fact that his fellow murder-for-hire conspirators were not slated for lethal injection, while he was. The Ohio Parole Board recommended the stay, but Governor Ted Strickland disagreed. The Supremes agreed 5-4 with Strickland.

I’d have liked to have heard that argument. Even as a life-long death penalty opponent, on first bounce, I found the fairness angle unpersuasive.

Yes, this report on the parole board’s reasoning does make the case more compelling. Yet, while the outcome for Jason Getsy, who by now has been executed, is indeed not fair, when viewed within the context of the other sentences, particularly the man who ordered the killing, I’m at all convinced that the notion of “fairness”—meaning the other guy had a better lawyer or a more lenient jury—is a valid legal argument, as along as Mr. Getsy’s representation was adequate.

Posted in crime and punishment, Gangs | 57 Comments »

57 Responses

  1. reg Says:

    Is it possible to impeach Supreme Court Justices – because on the basis of their voting against this, Scalia and Thomas should face at least a movement for their impeachment. This isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds. In 1970 Gerald Ford and 100 other congressmen petitioned for the impeachment of Supreme Court Justice William O Douglas on grounds that were nothing less than ludicrous political spin – including debates about innocuous articles he’d pubished in “risque” magazines. I think at the very least Scalia and Thomas need to face some sort of public shaming and sanctions for their flagrant violation of the most elementary principle of justice. That the court had never set this precedent before isn’t an excuse – that procedural bullshit, and the combined weight of the 5th, 6th, 8th and 9th amendments to the constitution, including any coherent interpretation of the preponderance of “common law” in cases where someone scheduled for execution can bring forward clearly exculpatory evidence that was not present at their trial. This position by Scalia and Thomas isn’t just inhuman, it’s insane. By virtue of this nauseating disregard for rights and life, they have disqualified themselves to serve on the Supreme Court. I’m calling my Congressperson to push for impeachment and my Senators for a resolution condemning this disgraceful behavior by these two pernicious weasels.

  2. reg Says:

    That should have read “It is possible…

  3. Woody Says:

    reg’s argument: Let’s impeach Justices who rule according to the Constitution and its intent. Let’s get more of those ACLU attorneys and justices who use empathy rather than law in decisions, both of whom assume that legislators making laws lacked good sense and empathy.

    The law is what it is, not what you want it to be. Why don’t you go through the legislative process rather than selecting activist judges? (I’m still looking for that right of privacy and abortion in our Constitution.)

    Good luck on your impeachment petition. Keep us informed on your progress with that.

    (What a crackpot.)

  4. Don Blablazo Says:

    There goes Woody with his facist ideology !!!!

    Bush and Cheney and the other Nazis would agree with his facist opinions. Woody take a nap and then don’t comment. yuck yuck

  5. Woody Says:

    Rather than read what a liberal rag wants you to accept, read the actual dissent:

    SCALIA, J., dissenting

    “The Georgia Supreme Court rejected petitioner’s ‘actual-innocence’ claim on the merits, denying his extraordinary motion for a new trial. Davis can obtain relief only if that determination was contrary to, or an unreasonable application of, ‘clearly established Federal law, as deter-mined by the Supreme Court of the United States.’ It most assuredly was not.”

    Note that Celeste left off that significant quote, which preceded the one that she supplied. More:

    “Transferring this case to a court that has no power to grant relief is strange enough. It becomes stranger still when one realizes that the allegedly new evidence we shunt off to be examined by the District Court has already been considered (and rejected) multiple times. Davis’s postconviction “actual-innocence” claim is not new. Most of the evidence on which it is based is almost a decade old. A State Supreme Court, a State Board of Pardons and Paroles, and a Federal Court of Appeals have all considered the evidence Davis now presents and found it lacking.

    “…If this Court thinks it possible that capital convictions obtained in full compliance with law can never be final, but are always subject to being set aside by federal courts for the reason of ‘actual innocence,’ it should set this case on our own docket so that we can (if necessary) resolve that question. Sending it to a district court that ‘might’ be authorized to provide relief, but then again ‘might’ be reversed if it did so, is not a sensible way to proceed.”

    The issue isn’t the guilt or innocense of Davis, but what is the role of the Supreme Court on the matter at this point and on similar future petitions. Your beef, if you have one, should be with the State Board of Pardons and Paroles, which spent a year on this.

    Isn’t it strange that our prisons hold so many people who claim to be innocent? Let’s re-try them all.

    Or, maybe you guys should organize a mob, complete with torches and pitchforks, and storm the prison to free those who “claim innocence.”

  6. Mavis Beacon Says:

    I read the dissent and Woody is half right, which is, I think, a personal best. Scalia wants the case to be about procedural matters. The other justices are concerned with the justice of executing an innocent man. Scalia and Thomas must not feel the constitution is interested in that sort of thing.

    I’ll note that Woody and conservatives like him have absolutely no idea whatsoever which justice is adhering closest to the original meaning (to use Scalia’s standard) of the constitution or the law they are adjudicating. The assumption that Scalia MUST be adhering to the constitution and that Stevens (and Roberts) must be trying to impose personal preferences demonstrates yet again that conservatives do not care primarily about process, protestations about balls and strikes to the contrary.

  7. reg Says:

    Woody doesn’t have a leg to stand on, unless he things Stevens and Roberts are liberals who don’t give a damn about the Constitution. The truth is that Scalia and Thomas don’t deserve to sit on the bench – they’re pedants not jurists. A computer program could spit out their decisions, they are so shallow, worthless and predictable. Unless we want to score Scalia points for barbed witticisms. But I know a bartender who has the same talent.

  8. reg Says:

    Incidentally, this issue has nothing to do with legislative issues. That’s a silly canard. It has to due with whether the highest court in the land has the duty to intervene in the interests of the broadest principles of justice and due process laid out in the Constitution. Nothing could be clearer. In a capital case it’s insane to suggest that the majority isn’t acting prudently and constitutionally in this instance. That there was no dissent from Alito and Roberts (I said “Stevens” rather than Alito in the earlier comment) is proof that this isn’t a “left’ vs. “Right” issue.

  9. MF Says:

    reg’s viewpoint is exactly what is wrong with Sotomayor and the rest of the liberal wing in SCOTUS. They want rulings based on what they think the law SHOULD be, instead of what it is. Woody is absolutely right. If a law is unfair, get the legislators to fix it. Courts are to rule based on what the law says and have NO (legitimate) leeway to rule otherwise. To rule the way reg wants it has a name – judicial activism.

    Oh, and for those who thought that anyone who opposed Sotomayor is racist, why was it *not* racist to oppose Miguel Estrada, also a Hispanic who was nominated to a federal Circuit Court of Appeals, but was shot down by the liberals? He was a brilliant judge who was even given the top rating by the (very liberal) American Bar Association, yet the liberals shot him down because he was a conservative, constitutionalist juror.

  10. Mavis Beacon Says:

    As a side note, I didn’t realize that Roberts and Alito voted secretly. I didn’t know that was allowed. I know the Supreme Court is supposed to be above politics, but it strikes me as highly inappropriate for it’s members to not disclose their votes. What gives?

  11. MF Says:

    reg wrote: “Incidentally, this issue has nothing to do with legislative issues. [snip] It has to due [sic] with whether the highest court in the land has the duty to intervene in the interests of the broadest principles of justice and due process laid out in the Constitution.”

    And nothing could outline better the definition of judicial activism. It’s not the duty of the court to rule based on what someone THINKS is just. The task is to rule based on what the law says. reg just clinched the argument … for his opposition!

  12. reg Says:

    What constitutional principle did the dirtbag Scalia invoke in shutting down the Florida recount in 2000 and over-riding the State Supreme Court. Answer me that or shove you ludicrous notions up your ass.

    You’re a fucking idiot.

  13. reg Says:

    The liberals shot that rightwinger down because of his shitty politics. Just like rightwingers tried to shoot Sotomayor down because they don’t like her moderate, centrist judicial philolsophy (she’s a former prosecutor and tough on related judicial issues.) But what was racist was assholes calling Sotomayor a racist…especially when it was coming from racists like Pat Buchanan and the rest of the Ugly Ethnocentric Crowd in Lower Wingnuttia.

  14. reg Says:

    Read the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th amendments to the Consitution and tell me that the Supreme Court has no right to intervene in a capital case where there is significant new exculpatory evidence. What is being complained about here is precisely what Sotomayor did in the notorious firefighters’ case – stand solely on precedent and, in that instance, narrow legislative intent rather than inject broader Constitutional principles into a ruling. Which is often the most appropriate thing for a lower court to do – but not for the Supreme Court. Conservatives are so hypocritical on these issues, it’s really a bad joke. At least liberals acknowledge that there’s no “one size fits all justice” – conservatives LOVE judicial activism when it’s in their own self-interest. The Bush 2000 ruling – against a state controlling it’s own election recount, which defies the Constitution in one of the most important cases ever decided – was definitive proof of that…

  15. reg Says:

    I should not have said “what is being complained about” but “what is being counseled”, i.e. the Scalia approach to this fundamental question of possible exculpatory evidence in a capital case.

  16. reg Says:

    Are Roberts and Alito “judicial activists” in the liberal cause ?

  17. Woody Says:


  18. Sure Fire Says:

    Excuse my later language to start but explain to me, if you would Celeste, why you would let a comment like the first one here be left up? What possible reason could there be? Does it add anything to any debate about the issue at hand?

    Fuck you Rob and anyone who is ok with your comment.

    As for the claims now regarding the witnesses that have changed their testimony regarding Troy Davis, I’d have to read the entire case to have an opinion. I do remember Leonard Weinglass claiming his investigators had interviewed a woman who claimed her boyfriend killed Ofcr. Daniel Faulkner like 30 years ago now, not Mumia Abul Jamal.

    Problem was this witness they claimed to have interviewed had been dead for 2 years. Defense attorneys in high profile cases are notorious for doing unethical things to prolong the appeals process, give me a break. Don’t know if that’s the case here but so many witnesses changing their testimony, in this case, has to be a red flag.

    Someone who should actually be removed from sitting on the bench is that idiot Steven Reinhart. Married to Ramona Ripston and some of his decisions look like he got her nod of approval before deciding them.

  19. Sure Fire Says:

    I like how someone shows Reg he’s full of it and his response is to change the topic and call them, “a fucking idiot”.

    What a class act.

  20. MF Says:

    Sure Fire: After I read reg’s comment #13, there was no more point to engaging with him. As for comment #1, I interpreted it differently. I thought RobThomas meant by ‘get out of jail free’, he meant permanently (meaning death penalty). Maybe I was wrong, and it really was offensive. But there certainly doesn’t appear to be much moderating going on here, given the fur that’s flying.

  21. reg Says:

    MF – you came with nothin and you’re stalking off with nothin’. Your comment was idiotic because it didn’t address anything I said. Just made a shallow, superficial charge that was, frankly, baseless. When you can answer the question in #13, you get to be taken seriously. Otherwise, you’re a fucking idiot and a crybaby. That you’ve got the vile burn out, Surefire, who accuses anyone who disagrees with him of being on drugs, defending you is a testament to the bankruptcy of your pathetic bullshit.

  22. reg Says:

    ” I do remember Leonard Weinglass claiming his investigators had interviewed a woman who claimed her boyfriend killed Ofcr. Daniel Faulkner like 30 years ago now, not Mumia Abul Jamal.”

    What the fuck does this have to do with anything ? Drunk at the fucking end of the bar bullshit…again.

  23. reg Says:

    And the stock lines about courts vs. legislators have NOTHING to do with the issues in this case – which is more evidence that MF and Woody are just bloviating their stock talking points. What a waste of time…

  24. reg Says:

    Please MF – answer the question about how Scalia pulled the 2000 Florida decision out of the Constitution – rather than his ass. And exactly how do Justices Roberts and Alito fit into your formulaic bullshit in response to their Davis ruliing ? I’m waiting….

  25. Sure Fire Says:

    Reg would have to climb several ladder rungs just to reach the stupid level, he’s a clown and nothing more.

    Cop haters are a dime a dozen but when you run a board that panders to gangsters you have to figure many of societies gutter dwellers would be on board.

    So dumb ass Reg will understand, maybe the night nurse can read it to him, my mentioning Weinglass and his antics was no different that the idiot throwing in his remarks about Florida which had nothing to do with the case posted here. Just a way to attack someone he doesn’t like.

    Seven witnesses changing their minds is mind boggling but to the soft on crime love the criminals and gangsters that post their mindless bs here, that should be over looked.

    Courts don’t make law, it isn’t their job… unless Reg says so and only judges that he’s ok with. What a moron.

  26. reg Says:

    MisFire – you’ve proven yourself a dirtbag with your spate of unbridled anger. Go fuck yourself. You’re a joke. This “analysys” isn’t even worthy of junior high school.

  27. Woody Says:

    Shorter reg: Our Constitution and the laws passed by legislators have nothing to do with the courts.

  28. reg Says:

    Woody – answer the fucking questions or shut your stupid mouth. You’re a goddam child. Mentally incompetent…

  29. reg Says:

    I’m the only one who has actually cited the Constitution here. You morons have simply reached in your back pockets and pulled out the usual cliches. Idiots.

  30. reg Says:

    I guess that’s the “shorter Justices Roberts and Alito” as well.

    Total fucking morons, and a waste of time.

  31. Sure Fire Says:

    Reg is as dumb as a rock and proves it time and again. If someone disagrees with his take well you’re just a target for one of his weak ass lame attacks.

    Claims like this are made all the time in dealth penalty cases and I’ll put money on Scalia or Thomas knowing the law a little better than the board degenerate.

    “Transferring this case to a court that has no power to grant relief is strange enough. It becomes stranger still when one realizes that the allegedly new evidence we shunt off to be examined by the District Court has already been considered (and rejected) multiple times. Davis’s postconviction “actual-innocence” claim is not new. Most of the evidence on which it is based is almost a decade old. A State Supreme Court, a State Board of Pardons and Paroles, and a Federal Court of Appeals have all considered the evidence Davis now presents and found it lacking.

    Read it again and let it sink in Reg, get your head out of your ass for a second and try to understand what Scalia is saying or stay wrapped up in your own well documented stupidity. He makes sense and your position is lame ass liberal bs, same as always.

    You write ever post like you’re foaming at the mouth, maybe some medicinal weed would relax you a bit, ask your nurse.

    Let this sink in as well.

    “…If this Court thinks it possible that capital convictions obtained in full compliance with law can never be final, but are always subject to being set aside by federal courts for the reason of ‘actual innocence,’ it should set this case on our own docket so that we can (if necessary) resolve that question. Sending it to a district court that ‘might’ be authorized to provide relief, but then again ‘might’ be reversed if it did so, is not a sensible way to proceed.”

  32. Celeste Fremon Says:


    I’ve been at USC most of the day and have not been checking comments. Checking the comments tonight, I found lots of good discussion on both sides of the matter, which then devolved into the boring old mud-flinging.

    So here are a couple of points.

    1. Rob, as you have not clarified your comment, I have assumed you meant it literally and thus I have deleted it.

    It is not even on the same planet as appropriate or okay.

    I usually really enjoy your comments. Not his one. Cops risk their lives for us. They are also sons, fathers, brothers and friends in our city.

    2. This decision is a really interesting topic for conversation and about which the different personalities here can find plenty of reasons vehemently disagree.

    For instance, I really disagree with Scalia. But I found his reasoning interesting, purely in terms of precedent.
    I also think that to attribute the majority decision to activist judges is absurd. The question is fascinating and complicated. And, if there is one side of the question upholding Constitutional intent, it is more likely that of the majority. Scalia is relying on case-law. Yet a case can be made for both positions, legally speaking. Morally is another matter. At least that’s how I see it.

    BUT HERE’S THE DEAL: Surely we can have these discussions without the endless Tourette’s-esque swearing and hard core name calling.

    I am at fault for letting it go on for so long. But, it really yanks the conversation into an ultimately uninteresting realm.

    I’m thinking of setting up a rules of engagement structure. And maybe that’s the solution.

    We have both liberals and conservatives here and some in between. Although I lean in the liberal direction, I have designed the site to welcome both.

    But this drop-to-the-lowest common denominator thing that happens so often is not very interesting.

    Please try to start self-policing. (And this is not directed at anyone in particular. A lot of you here are guilty of this stuff.)

    Again, I’m very much at fault for letting it go on for so long.

    But I think we can all do better.

  33. Sure Fire Says:

    Thanks for taking down the comment Celeste. I don’t have any problem with a set of rules regarding “self-policing”, good luck with some others.

  34. Woody Says:

    C: Surely we can have these discussions without the endless Tourette’s-esque swearing and hard core name calling.

    Well, what’s the Left going to have for arguments now? That takes away all of their ammunition, which has amounted to using spitballs at a debate.

  35. reg Says:

    A couple of notes on this discussion:

    1) Surefire brought in the Mumia case, which has absolutely no bearing on this one – admitting that he didn’t know what he was talking about.

    2) Woody and MF start making crazy statements about “change the law if you don’t like it” which have absolutely nothing to do with this case – nothing, no way – and repeat the most tired cliches rather than address whether at least 4 amendments to the Constitution guarantee that a “common law” concept of justice – even if one has already been subjected to a “fair trial” – doesn’t prevail and isn’t precisely within the intent of the Constitution’s gurantee of rights in the event of potentially dispositive evidence arising ex post facto. This is no small question and, frankly, I think arguing narrowly and in terms of “precedent” on something this fundamental borders on insane and compulsive.

    3) The usual rightwing blather was accompanied by references to Sonia Sotomayor. The fact is – and this isn’t arcane or obscure – that the ruling about the firefighter that Sotomayor was criticized for was made on precisely the same grounds that Scalia’s argument in this case was made on – precedent, in addition to narrow interpretation of prior legislative intent. That ruling was constrained and determined not to look at deeper issues of constitutional interpretation. Like the Scalia ruling here, it was perfunctory and determined not to interfere with the status quo.

    4) A ridiculous spew of verbiage about “liberals” this and that or the “judicial activism” cliches poured forth – predictably, since these guys use “drunk at the end of the bar” arguments we’ve been subjected to relentlessly and relatively stupidly – but not a single one has taken the challenge to explain the Constitutional basis of the 2000 Florida recount decision, which IMHO proved that Scalia and his ilk are political hacks with a point of view as much, if not more, than any justices on the Supreme Court. If one reverts to “judicial activism” when the chips are really down, the argument about consistent application of the Constitution as ones’ philosophical basis is hollow. In Scalia’s case it’s hollow. I could churn out his persistent naysaying – there’s nothing there but a right-wing social and political philosophy in the clothing of “consistency.” It’s absurd and anyone who can’t explain how that 2000 ruling fits into a consistently “conservative” judicial philosophy is a fraud.

    5) It’s also absurd in this case to sling the usual slime Surefire and the rest subject us to about “liberals” (insert whatever ridiculous mantra about “crime-lovers” or whatever here – it’s a fucking joke really) when Justices Roberts and Alito – the only two justices presently on the court who could argue that they have a consistently “conservative” judicial philosophy at this point and lean away from “activist” interpretation, based on their actual records – ruled with the majority. Anything that’s pushed into the argument about “liberals this and that” has to be rationalized in terms of these two acknowledged conservatives.

    What we’ve seen here from Woody, Misfire, MF, et al is just a bunch of kneejerk namecalliing and totally irrelevant asides that have NOTHING to do with this case. Which is why these characters are such a goddam waste of time.

    I respect the Supreme Court enough to assume that even an Alito, who I’m not in synch with, isn’t a bamboozled fool and sees something worrisome on the table in terms of exculpatory evidence. If that’s not true – which no one here can address with the same seriousness and thoroughness that Alito, Roberts and the rest weighed it – so be it as the case plays out. But I’m assuming it’s not true that the evidence is worthless, because I’m not a knee-jerk narcissist with the answer to all of lifes problems in my back-pocket, despite lack of qualifications or actual time spent on the problem. That’s what we’re getting here – knee-jerk bullshit, recycled for any and all occasions. That might fit the modest parameters of “not insane” in a case that didn’t cross the lines of judicial philosophies extant on the current court so dramatically. Anyone who would respond to such an important ruling by key reps of both the “left” and the “right” on the Supreme Court by going back to their pre-fab talking points about “making law from the bench” or old buzzwords about “the legislature, not the court”, is analytically – and in this particular case given that a man’s life is at stake – morally incompetent. They’re showing a very weak hand. But its typical. And why none of these guys responded to my specific questions, but took the little girls’ cry-baby route about my having, perhaps prematurely, nailed them by calling one of them fucking idiots. It’s also interesting how quickly MisFire raises the ante with his lame-ass crap about nursing homes. The liklihood of course is that this burnout will be under some sort of intensive care long before I will. But that – along with obsessive accusations of drug abuse – is his best shot.

    Sorry I said “fuck” and “idiot” but this stuff presented here as “argument” – simply reeks with the “same-old” knee-jerk accusatory shit and is devoid of discussion of this case’s implications. It has been exemplary in the annals of fucking idiocy.

  36. reg Says:

    Incidentally, Woody was the first person on this thread to invoke “namecalling” in response to another commenter. Which makes his stupid shit in #34 even more stupid. And “MF’s” comment on this case – which invoked the “racism” angle regarding Miquel Estrada and went off on Sonia Sotomayor and “liberals” – who didn’t even rule on this case, while Roberts and Alito DID. That’s just dumb derailing of any rational discussion of the actual topic.

    And I’m really the fucking idiot because this is a total waste of time. If I keep allowing people like Woody and Surefire into my mental space, I WILL need a night nurse. I’ve got a lot of writing to do today and I need to head off to the gym. With any luck at all – i.e. self-imposed sanity as opposed to morbid curiousity at what the crazies have to say – these are my last comments on this particular topic. Have fun…

  37. Mavis Beacon Says:

    Reg, we don’t know how Alito, Kennedy, and Roberts voted. I don’t understand how this is allowed. Does anyone have any info about this? Is it a semi-regular thing?

  38. reg Says:

    Okay – I’m totally confused about that and didn’t know it was even possible. I just read the dissent. But in order for this ruling to be “majority”, since Sotomayor didn’t participate (presumably because she wasn’t around in time to give it full consideration) it means either Alito or Roberts would have had to side with Stevens. I’m betting that both voted with the majority. But even if they split, it still puts one of the only two justices that have a “clean record” of “anti-activist” jurisprudence on the side of the stay for Davis, which still makes the notion of a knee-jerk response on this pretty lame “analysis.” (As I said earlier, Thomas and Scalia have zero credibility as “anti-judicial activist, strict Constitutionalists” on the basis of their Florida 2000 ruling against the state having primary jurisdiction in evaluating their own election.)

    (Please don’t tell me my math is totally wrong, because I see no way that this ruling couuld prevail without one of those two Bush appointees siding with Stevens.)

  39. reg Says:

    (I really want out of this discussion, but I’ll check back to see if Mavis has anything that either contradicts my conclusion about Alito and/or Roberts or throws more light on the nature of this vote. I’ll leave the rest of it stand for the crazies with no further comments.)

  40. Randy Paul Says:

    Well, what’s the Left going to have for arguments now? That takes away all of their ammunition, which has amounted to using spitballs at a debate.

    The utter lack of self-awareness rolls on.

  41. Celeste Fremon Says:

    Mavis and Reg,

    It was a 6-2 vote with Sotomayor not voting. Thomas voted with Scalia. The rest comprised the majority with only Stevens writing an opinion for the majority that was unsigned by the rest.

  42. Woody Says:

    You wrote too many words to read, reg. But I scanned the comment and it looks like you are having a meltdown. Try the 10 mg–blue, round pill.

  43. Mavis Beacon Says:

    thanks, Celeste. This passage from the LA Times confused me:

    “Levenson and a number of other law professors assumed that a majority of justices had voted in favor of the order, though the court itself was not totally clear about the tally. Stevens was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer in concurring.”

    Where did you get the complete info?

  44. reg Says:

    In other words, those tossing off the tired cliches here have some ‘splainin’ to do ! I see that TrollBoy demonstrates his usual inability to respond with anything other than insulting drivel when confronted with his own dishonesty, serious questions beyond his ken or even the most modest complexities related to an issue.

  45. Sure Fire Says:

    You keep thinking you’re the smartest guy on the block Reg, I’m sure you’ve thought that way a long time. If you can’t see why I brought Mumia into it it’s because you put on blinders because it doesn’t fit into your perception of the thread, just like any other you comment on.

    It’ pretty funny to sit here and read your drivel abut who said what first because in just about every thread you comment on the response you post goes down the obscenity path when you disagree with someone. You sound like the little kid who runs home with his football when the game isn’t going his way.

    I reposted some points that Scalia made in his dissent and you disregarded them both times they were on the board and than accuse others of being the ones avoiding the topic. You’re atypical liberal bowing at the alter of the misguided notions you carry with you day to day but scream like a baby when you get a little something back and play the he said she said card.

    I don’t care what you think ever and will attack your position if the need hits me. The odds you’ll respond with anything but the name calling you have since I started posting here is remote.

  46. Woody Says:

    reg, one moment you accuse me of making complex arguments and the next moment you say that I can’t deal with them. Maybe I’m just bored with your nonsense.

  47. reg Says:

    There is a single issue that matters here.

    Antonin Scalia: “This court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is ‘actually’ innocent.”

    Anyone who considers that an acceptable final word on the disposition of death penalty cases in this country is pretty much beneath contempt IMHO. The insanity of that kiss of death from Tony Pro speaks for itself. And if our local gang of loudmouth Judge-baiting narcissists think they’ve got a handle on the facts before the court that eluded even Justices Roberts and Alito – who are extremely cautious in such matters – that also speaks for itself.

  48. Sure Fire Says:

    Convincing a court is nothing more than “judge shopping” in many cases. What to me flies in the face of an open minded look at an issue as this is that somehow seven witnesses changed their minds and it’s given short shrift by the far left ideology of posters.

    How that could escape someone with common sense speaks to their own built up biases and nothing more.

  49. reg Says:

    So nobody on the Supreme Court has your common sense except for Scalia and Thomas. And conservative justices Alito and Roberts are in league with “far left ideology of posters.”

    And you accuse ME of “thinking you’re the smartest guy on the block.”

    What a crock…you the prime example here of a bundle of “built up biases and nothing more.”

    And I’m not even close to any “far left ideology.” You’re carrying around one hell of an absurd chip on your shoulder. Arrogant, angry, accusatory creeps like you give cops who are trying to be decent a bad name.

  50. Woody Says:

    reg hates the limitations that the Constitution and legislation imposes on the courts and what they may and may not do. Scalia spelled it out, but reg thinks that all of his causes should get special hearings. Hey, reg, take it to the World Court, since they hate America like you.

  51. Randy Paul Says:

    Woody likes to have innocent black people executed.

  52. reg Says:

    Woody wants to end “fascist” programs like Social Security and Medicare and wants your grandma to die in the gutter without health care if she can’t pay for it.

  53. reg Says:

    Weirdest of all, Woody actually worries about what other men do with their penises.

  54. Sure Fire Says:

    I don’t have any chip on my shoulder, I have built up biases based on what I see as the truth based on personal experience not on what I hear from the media or some book says.

    I went into several sites and looked at this case and I’d lean toward this guy being guilty but since the feminization of society has taken hold pretty strongly over the past 10 years or so, it’s all about given someone chance after chance after chance to reverse a ruling by a court of law.

    Wikipedia had quite the article and attached debate over the tone of the Wikipedia entry and it’s built inn bias regarding Davis. Pretty interesting stuff, but it didn’t leave me any closer to thinking an innocent man was going to be executed.

    Scalia and Thomas aren’t the only two justices with common sense but the rule of law has to stand for something and it seems they are the two advocating just that in this case.

  55. reg Says:

    “the feminization of society”

    Shorter MisFire: “Roberts and Alito are faggots!”

  56. Sure Fire Says:

    Old geezer reprobate like you is all about being feminine and it probably keeps the other old guys in the home on their toes Reggie Boy.









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