Supreme Court Tosses Three Texas Death Sentences

The Supreme Court today threw out three Texas death sentences.

The cases all stem from jury instructions that Texas hasn't used since 1991. Under those rules, courts have found that jurors were not allowed to give sufficient weight to factors that might cause them to impose a life sentence instead of death.

The cases were decided by a 5-4 majority, with Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Anthony Kennedy, David Souter and John Paul Stevens voting to overturn the sentences.

Via How Appealing:

Lyle Denniston has this post at "SCOTUSblog." You can access the opinion in Smith v. Texas, No. 05-11304, here and the oral argument transcript here. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy issued the majority opinion in a case that divided the U.S. Supreme Court 5-4.

The Court today also issued decisions in two other death penalty cases that were orally argued together (access the transcript here): Abdul-Kabir v. Quarterman, No. 05-11284 (opinion here) and Brewer v. Quarterman, No. 05-11287 (opinion here).

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  • Display: Sort:
    Floodgates? (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by HK on Wed Apr 25, 2007 at 02:47:43 PM EST
    The linked article says:

    Forty-seven inmates on Texas' death row were sentenced under the rules that the state abandoned in 1991.

    Can we assume that at least some of this number will embark on similar legal challenges - and stand a good chance of winning?

    Catholic justices (none / 0) (#2)
    by magster on Wed Apr 25, 2007 at 03:39:31 PM EST
    There has been a lot of discussion in the blogosphere about how Catholic justices were responsible for the recent ban on an abortion procedure, and the implicit accusation that their faith preempted the justices' duty to follow the law.

    The Catholic church also is against the death penalty.  The only Catholic justice to vote consistently with church beliefs these last two weeks was Justice Kennedy, and recall that he voted in the Casey case to not overrule Roe v. Wade.

    So, it's not that Scalia, Thomas, and Alito are Catholic that's important, it's that they are Republicans in the worst sense of the word (a.k.a.: buttheads).

    You made the Catholics promise- (none / 0) (#3)
    by diogenes on Wed Apr 25, 2007 at 10:10:51 PM EST
    That their decisions would not be directly governed by the church.  That was a litmus test regarding abortion.  No one who said "I will decide cases based on what the pope says" would be confirmed.  Now you complain because they are not deciding decisions based on religion only?