Saturday, March 23, 2019
As I discussed in this post, from 13 years ago (!), I have constrained enthusiasm for restrictions on the death penalty that are the result of either unsound constitutional interpretation or executive overreaches. Gov. Gavin Newsom's defense of his recent announcement of a "moratorium" on capital punishment in California is, I believe, an example of the latter. Let's put aside questions we might have about whether his stated reasons are his actual reasons. Let's put aside also questions we might have about the plausibility of his statement that "[o]ur nation . . . looks to California for solutions that work and reflect our highest moral values." In my view, his claim that he speaks for California and that he is acting "under [his] authority as governor" are very difficult to square with the fact that "California" just three years ago (a) rejected a ballot initiative that would have ended capital punishment and (b) adopted an initiative to speed up appeals and executions in capital cases.
Most of what Gov. Newsom says about capital punishment is, in my view, true and if I were a voter or a legislator in California I would vote to repeal the death penalty. But, if the rule of law matters, then process matters as well as policy.