Dysfunction At The Supreme Court

Perhaps the most interesting, and important, story of the day.

The fact is that a society based on morals and decency can not allow for the death penalty.  It should be ended–at once.  There is no other word for that practice other than barbaric.  Consider the states it is used in, and the states where it is not allowed.  Vengeance is never an acceptable means of punishment.

The dissent, tinged with anguish and filled with bitter accusations, was not ready until almost 3 a.m. It described a rupture in the carefully tended norms of civility at the Supreme Court. And it provided a rare glimpse into ordinarily secret deliberations.

In seven angry pages, Justice Stephen G. Breyer recounted how the conservative majority on the court had refused his request to delay the execution of an Alabama inmate for a few hours so he and the other justices could discuss the matter in person at their usual Friday morning conference.

Instead, by a 5-to-4 vote in the middle of the night, the court allowed the execution to proceed, with the conservative justices in the majority and the liberals in dissent. Although that division was not unusual, the way the court got there was.

Justice Breyer’s dissent reflects that things have quickly gotten ugly at the court since the replacement of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who was a moderating force in capital cases, with the more conservative Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh.

The dispute among the justices on Friday lasted long enough that Alabama officials postponed the execution of the inmate, Christopher L. Price, which had been scheduled for Thursday night. They said a new execution date would be set.

Late-night rulings on death penalty applications are not unheard-of, but they are seldom issued in the predawn hours. In his early morning dissent, almost certainly completed at home, Justice Breyer wrote that the court’s treatment of the case was deeply distressing.