LA Times Opposes Bill Restricting Habeas

The LA Times has an excellent editorial opposing the Streamlined Procedures Act which would gut habeas corpus for those on death row as well as the provisions in the Patriot Act renewal legislation that would make it easier for the feds to get a death penalty conviction.

The Times also points out that it is becoming increasingly acceptable for politicians to oppose the death penalty. Case in point: the newly elected Governors of both Virginia and New Jersey oppose the death penalty.

On the Patriot Act:

provisions in the renewal of the Patriot Act would make it easier for prosecutors to win the death penalty in federal trials. They could even get a second chance if a jury deadlocked on the penalty.

On the Streamlined Procedures Act:

The Senate version of the bill (blandly called the Streamlined Procedures Act) is heading for a vote in the Judiciary Committee. Its most offensive provision would curtail the use of writs of habeas corpus, which allow plaintiffs to move death penalty cases into federal courts on constitutional grounds after state appeals are exhausted. Faced with the opposition of 49 of 50 state chief justices, along with the American Bar Assn. and numerous law enforcement and human rights organizations, supporters have already softened the Senate proposal, and compromise could further alleviate its effects.

Softer or not, however, the measure would still result in people whose guilt (or degree of guilt) is in doubt being put to death or left to rot in prison. States' protections vary widely, and many are far weaker than California's. In federal court, it is not uncommon to see cases in which prosecutors or police are suspected of hiding evidence, witness testimony is questionable, racial bias in jury selection is at issue or DNA evidence may yet be obtained.

On the death penalty itself:

Science and history are making it increasingly clear that there is no way to reconcile speedy justice and the death penalty. While Congress is trying to make executions easier, many states and the Supreme Court are working to make the system more fair — and the death penalty more rare.

... A civilized society does not risk a mistake that would take a life. Restricting the appeals process in death penalty cases simply turns back the clock to a time of greater injustice. But Americans would be just as safe, and increasingly just as satisfied, with an ultimate sentence of life in prison.

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    Re: LA Times Opposes Bill Restricting Habeas (none / 0) (#1)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:17 PM EST
    I just saw "Good Night and Good Luck. Near the end is a harrowing clip of Dwight D. Eisenhower speaking passionately about habeas corpus. It's a very disturbing film with very eery parallels to the current political climate.

    Re: LA Times Opposes Bill Restricting Habeas (none / 0) (#2)
    by Johnny on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:18 PM EST
    Why does the LAT hate America and want the terrorists to win? Suspending habeus is the only way we can get all them brown people out of the way!

    Re: LA Times Opposes Bill Restricting Habeas (none / 0) (#3)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:18 PM EST
    Johnny: If it's sarcasm, I don't get it. If it's simple bigotry, I don't wanna get it. Habeas corpus is among the most basic of the bedrock principles of our jurisprudence. Get rid of it and we cease to remain a democratic nation of laws that prides itself on placing the rights of the individual front and center in society. This goes all the way back to the Magna Carta and nasty King John, so this is by no means small potatoes. If we gut our own jurisprudence in the name of the permanent "war on terror", it should be clear that the "terrorists" have already won and, that in doing so, we have openly declared to the world that our hatred of "terrorists" is greater than our love of freedoms, and the laws that used to preserve those freedoms. Once we do that, it becomes impossible to identify oneself from amongst the "terrorists". And this is not some relatively evanescent precedent like Roe, a mere infant at 30. No, this dates back almost 800 years. So, be very, very careful what you wish for because the Reps (and some Dems!!) are hellbent to grant your wish.

    Re: LA Times Opposes Bill Restricting Habeas (none / 0) (#4)
    by Johnny on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:18 PM EST
    ***sarcasm intended in my first post*** ***more sarcasm alert*** Noone cares about precedent, we just want to rid the world of brown people who do not worship the right god or spend the right money or practice the same political system. Suspending habeus is a good first step in that direction.

    Re: LA Times Opposes Bill Restricting Habeas (none / 0) (#5)
    by john horse on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:18 PM EST
    When Republicans passed legislation suspending habeas for detainees, weren't we assured that this would never be done to citizens? Yet isn't that what Senator Kyl is doing?