Readers probably remember that I am against the death penalty. My main objection is that it effectively short-circuits appeal rights. Sure, people sent to death row get a lot of appeals, but those appeals are relatively narrow in time, say over 8-10 years. Would 10 years of appeals help a black man put wrongly on death row in Alabama in 1955? It wasn't until 20-30 years later, or even 50 years later, that both society and technology have changed enough to free a lot of people in jail. Just look at how many people the Innocence Project has helped to free, and how many are starting to be freed with DNA.
In this context, I found this statement (via Stephen Littau of the Liberty Papers) particularly frightening.
"This court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is "˜actually' innocent. Quite to the contrary, we have repeatedly left that question unresolved, while expressing considerable doubt that any claim based on alleged "˜actual innocence' is constitutionally cognizable." "“ From the dissenting opinion by Justices Scalia and Thomas on the question of whether death row inmate Troy Davis should receive a new trial after 7 eye witnesses against him recanted their testimonies against Davis.
If innocence does not matter, what the hell does??