The U.S. Supreme Court’s latest death penalty ruling exposes the cruel, unusual and anti-scientific bias of the court’s right-wing justices. Those justices were frustrated that their court’s majority rejected Florida’s use of a rigid IQ test to decide if an "intellectually disabled" man should be executed instead of spending life in prison.
The case, Hall v. Florida, considered whether the man, who beat, raped and shot a pregnant woman in 1978, should receive the death penalty because his IQ was just over the 70-point IQ test threshold approved by Florida’s supreme court. Kentucky, Virginia and Alabama have almost identical death penalty laws. Five other states have similar strict IQ
thresholds: Arizona, Delaware, Kansas, North Carolina and Washington.
What made the justices’ dissent so striking was that it backed a modern version of conservative mob rule—based on the most draconian state laws—and then attacked the latest scientific standards to measure mental disability. It was written by Justice Samuel Alito, Jr. and signed by John Roberts, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.
In contrast, the majority opinion, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, said “intellectual disability is a condition, not a number.”
The U.S. Constitution’s Eighth Amendment bars cruel and unusual punishment. The four dissenting justices said that what’s cruel and unusual depends on evolving societal norms, and cited actions taken by state Legislatures—where in recent years get-tough-on-crime conservatives have imposed overly harsh sentences. The dissenters said these laws were the “clearest and most reliable objective evidence of contemporary values.”
That assertion is absurd; many corners of the legal profession view mandatory prison sentences as expensive and counter-productive, especially if prisoners will eventually be released. But the Court’s right-wingers apparently want more certainty and less moral ambiguities in death penalty sentences.
That’s where they then went after the American Psychiatric Association’s latest disability standards, saying that they were too flexible in determining if a killer should be exempt from execution. They stridently objected to the APA’s contention that the IQ tests results for mental retardation are a range—not a simple bright line.
“Today, the Court overrules [Florida’s Supreme Court]… based largely on the positions adopted by private professional associations,” they said.“In taking this step, the Court sharply departs from the framework prescribed in prior Eighth Amendment cases and adopts a uniform national rule that is both conceptually unsound and likely to result in confusion.”
#1148 May 30, 2014
#1150 May 31, 2014
Iowa state Senator and U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst (R) says she thinks the legality of same-sex marriage should be left up to the states -- but would still support a federal ban on gay marriage if one were proposed.
During Thursday's Republican debate, the candidates vying for the GOP nomination were asked for their take on same-sex marriage.
"I do believe that marriage is between one man and one woman, and I also believe that this is a state's right. And I have a record of this here in the state of Iowa," she said. "It is up to the people to make that decision, so allow the states to make that decision."
Ernst noted her work on a bill in the Iowa state Senate authorizing a vote on a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in the state. Ernst was one of the bill's co-sponsors.
But despite her support for the right of the people "to make that decision," she said she would back a federal constitutional amendment barring gays and lesbians from getting married.
"If it would come up at the federal level, I would support it," she said.
Ernst will face a field of four other Republicans in the June 3 primary. The winner of next Tuesday's contest will likely go on to face Democratic frontrunner Bruce Braley in the race to replace outgoing Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).
#1151 May 31, 2014
Since: Oct 12
#1152 May 31, 2014
If the teaparty House republicans are gonna obstruct any real progress....i have no problem with the states settling gay marriage and minimum wage issues...am i missing something?'
#1154 Jun 7, 2014
Annette Bosworth, 42, a doctor from Sioux Falls, was charged with six counts each of perjury and filing false documents and accused of falsely claiming she was gathering nominating petition signatures in South Dakota when she was really in the Philippines, the South Dakota Attorney General's Office said.
Clayton Walker, 33, of Rapid City, also faces six counts each of perjury and filing false documents. Walker had been running an independent campaign for the U.S. Senate seat, but had been removed from the November ballot after a challenge to his nominating petitions.
"The election complaints received by the Secretary of State involve conduct that is serious, deliberate and must be addressed in order to preserve the integrity of our elections," South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley said in a statement.
Mike Rounds, a former two-term governor, won Tuesday's Republican primary with more than 55 percent of the vote. Bosworth finished fourth with 5.75 percent. Rounds will face Democrat Rick Weiland in the November election.
In a news conference posted on the Argus Leader newspaper's website, Bosworth said there was no criminal intent to deceive. She said she believed the charges were a "political prosecution" by Jackley, a Republican, who had been appointed by Rounds.
Reuters was not able to reach Bosworth through a phone number associated with her Senate campaign.
Each of the felony charges carries a possible maximum sentence of two years in prison and/or a $4,000 fine, the attorney general's office said.
An initial court date was scheduled for June 23.
#1155 Jun 8, 2014
That is exactly what is going on.
The Republicans have done nothing; the reason the Republican led Congress has a low approval rating.
They're too busy trying to discredit the president with their phony "scandal" of the week instead of legislating for what's best for the country.
The only ones they can distract are their uninformed, uneducated voting base of Obama haters.
#1156 Jun 8, 2014
On point and you're not missing a thing.
#1157 Jun 8, 2014
That's the Republicans for you, full of lies, tricks and deceit.
#1158 Jun 13, 2014
For conservatives, all roads seem to lead to Benghazi, but they have encountered a few distractions along the way.
Earlier in June, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) suggested that President Obama ignited a new controversy by negotiating for the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in order to detract from the real VA scandal.
This tactic is not new for the right. Conservatives constantly cry "distraction" when the media covers an issue unrelated to their scandal du jour.
Benghazi: The king of the distraction meme
Perhaps the best example of this is the GOP's obsession with Benghazi. As Mother Jones pointed out in May, for the past year conservatives have labeled a number of the administration’s actions as feeble attempts to distract from the true issue at hand.
Republicans cried “distraction” after Michelle Obama tried to show her support for #BringBackOurGirls. According to Fox News, a legally mandated climate change report in May was clearly released to distract from the scandal.
Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) charged during a House committee hearing on whether the U.S. should take military action in Syria that the debate about Syria was just a ruse to distract from scandals like Benghazi.
The IRS Scandal is the distraction? Or the real scandal?
Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh even posited that the Obama administration timed the IRS scandal, which quickly became one of the GOP's favorite controversies, to come out in order to take attention away from Benghazi. And Glenn Beck suggested that Obama also timed reports about the government's collection of AP journalists' phone records to distract from the Republicans' main scandal.
This distraction meme of sorts extends beyond the coveted Benghazi scandal. Conservatives constantly highlight their aversion to talking about more than one issue at a time. And as Comedy Central's Jon Stewart noted in his "Appetite for Distraction" segment, Fox News has been all over Obama's "misdirection juju."
#1159 Jun 13, 2014
The reason there is a lot of unrest and internal fighting within the Republican party.
Their heads are spinning, they have no issues to address the American public with and are using distractions thinking that will win them elections.
They are sadly mistaken.
#1160 Jun 20, 2014
Former VP Dick Cheney wrote the following in his Wall Street Journal op-ed this week:
"Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many."
And if you were to guess that he was referring to his former boss, George W. Bush, you'd be wrong.
The man with whom Bush committed the worst military debacle in U.S. history and, as many believe, with whom he's guilty of war crimes, was actually talking about President Barack Obama.
In in the wake of escalating sectarian violence in Iraq, neo-cons like Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Paul Bremer and others have crawled out from under their war-mongering rocks in a pathetic attempt to vindicate themselves while dumping the blame for this disastrous mess on Obama.
The level of audacity, duplicity, shamelessness and megalomania with Cheney in particular is astounding. The war began unjustly, was misguided and mismanaged, and soon proved Cheney 100% dead-wrong on everything he pitched to Americans. Let's revisit for a moment his greatest hits:
-Insisted Iraq had WMD
-Predicted the invasion/war would "last weeks, not months"
-Claimed we'd be "greeted as liberators"
-Bragged that extremists would have to "rethink their strategy of Jihad"
-Boasted that the insurgency "was in its last throes" back in 2005
In fact, the war lasted eight years, cost $1-trillion and 4500 U.S. soldiers' lives. It was a blood-thirsty conflation of Saddam Hussein with 9/11. It was battered with threats of "mushroom clouds" and domestic terrorism. It remains a vile twisting of reality, and an unconscionable exploitation of the nation's collective emotion and fear following the horrific New York City and DC attacks. And it was all perpetrated by Bush/Cheney & Co., not Obama, who merely inherited this mess.
#1161 Jun 22, 2014
Cheney is a fool, hypocrite and idiot.
He should go back to accidently shooting his friends.
#1163 Jun 26, 2014
Some conservatives aren't happy that their preferred candidate, state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) lost to Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) in the runoff of the GOP primary for U.S. Senate in Mississippi. Many tea party types are openly speculating foul play and that Democrats and black voters were involved. Take Rush Limbaugh who wondered if Cochran's campaign slogan in Mississippi over the last few days was "Uncle Toms for Thad."
"I wonder what the campaign slogan was in Mississippi the past few days,'Uncle Toms for Thad'? Because I thought it was the worst thing you could do as an African American, vote for a Republican. The worst thing you could do," Limbaugh said on Wednesday. "But somehow they were made to believe that voting for old Thad would be fine and dandy. And why? Because they were told Thad's done a lot for black people in Mississippi. Must be the first time they were told that."
Cochran's turnaround victory in the race on Tuesday was immediately met with criticism by McDaniel and tea partiers over his strategy of reaching out to not only Republicans but also Democrats and African-Americans, a move that dismayed tea partiers but isn't illegal under Mississippi's open primary laws.
When Cochran was named the winner, McDaniel himself openly questioned the results, and said "there is something a bit strange, there is something a bit unusual about a Republican primary that's decided by liberal Democrats."
"Before this race ends we have to be absolutely certain that the Republican primary was won by Republican voters," McDaniel also said.
But others were more direct and pointed in their criticism of Cochran. Matt Drudge, for instance, posted a link to a New York Times story with the line "Black vote used." Another link on Drudge said "The flier 'that got Cochran elected'..." and linked to a National Review blog post on Wednesday reporting that a flyer that had allegedly been circulated in heavily black precincts of Mississippi that was titled: "The Tea Party intends to prevent blacks from voting on Tuesday."
#1164 Jun 27, 2014
The more established and moderate Republicans are trying to distance themselves from the far right extremists who are unelectable.
They should have never allowed that bunch of crazies into their party, it ruined their name and has the party in disarray.
Those Teabagger loonies need to go, they hate America.
#1165 Jul 7, 2014
North Carolina’s voter identification law, which has been described as the most sweeping attack on African American electoral rights since the Jim Crow era, is being challenged in a legal hearing that opens on Monday.
Civil rights lawyers and activists are gathering in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, for the start of the legal challenge that is expected to last all week. They will be seeking to persuade a federal district judge to impose a preliminary injunction against key aspects of HB 589, the voting law enacted by state Republicans last August.
Lawyers for the North Carolina branch of the NAACP and the civil rights group the Advancement Project will argue that the main pillars of the law should be temporarily halted ahead of a full trial next year. Otherwise, they say, tens of thousands of largely poor black voters could find themselves turned away at the polls at the midterm elections in November.
“This is the worst voter suppression law we have seen since the days of Jim Crow. It is a full-on assault on the voting rights of minorities,” said Reverend William Barber, president of the North Carolina state conference of the NAACP.
North Carolina was the first state to take advantage of the landmark US supreme court ruling last June that removed one of the most powerful provisions in the 1965 Voting Rights Act. In Shelby County v Holder, the supreme court struck down the so-called “pre-clearance requirement” that had for almost half a century acted as a stalwart against racial discrimination at the polls in largely Southern states.
The provision had required that nine entire states and parts of six others including North Carolina sought approval from the federal government, or “pre-cleared”, any changes they made to voting arrangements. The conservative majority of the supreme court argued that exceptional remedies that had been necessary in the 1960s to combat Jim Crow racism were no longer justified in the modern age.
#1166 Jul 8, 2014
Two days after losing in Mississippi’s US Senate Republican primary runoff election, State Senator Chris McDaniel is still refusing to concede to the winner, incumbent Senator Thad Cochran. McDaniel and his supporters (like Sarah Palin) claim that the election results are illegal due to Democratic voters crossing over to vote in the Republican primary runoff. They point to Mississippi election law, which states that voters who participate in a primary election should intend to support the candidate they vote for in the general election. Also, voters who participated in the Democratic primary are barred from voting in another party’s runoff election.
While appearing on the Mark Levin Show Wednesday night, McDaniel said that Cochran received 35,000 Democratic votes on Tuesday. Apparently, he is counting all of the extra votes Cochran got compared to the primary election. Of course, McDaniel conveniently ignores the extra votes he got himself. He also stated as fact that a number of these voters participated in the Democratic primary, so their votes should be cast aside. On top of that, McDaniel feels that a lot of these voters will not support Cochran in the general election this coming November, so more votes should be cast aside.
#1167 Jul 8, 2014
It needs to be challenged, the GOPukes always want to change the rules whenever they lose.
All they want to do is turn back the clock to a time that has long past.
Jim Crow is dead and will not return no matter how bad they want it to.
Since: Oct 12
#1168 Jul 8, 2014
Their cancelling of the 7 day early voting period, is entirely designed to limit access to the minorities, handicapped and elderly.....Many Americans, having seen all this treachery.....will never forgive the GOP.....
#1169 Jul 11, 2014
I really hope you are right because November is a very important election and I hope most
Americans express this on Election Day.
#1170 Jul 11, 2014
A circuit court judge ruled late Thursday that the Florida legislature illegally redrew the state's congressional districts in 2012 to benefit Republicans.
Circuit Judge Terry Lewis slammed political operatives in his ruling, saying they "made a mockery of the Legislature's transparent and open process of redistricting" while "going to great lengths to conceal from the public their paln [sic] and their participation in it," as quoted by the Tampa Bay Times. While the judge concluded that GOP operatives "did in fact conspire to manipulate and influence the redistricting process," he did not determine that legislative leaders were in on the scheme.
Lewis ordered that the state's 5th and 10th congressional districts, represented by Reps. Corrine Brown (D) and Daniel Webster (R), respectively, be redrawn, according to the newspaper. Neighboring districts would also be affected by those changes.
The lawsuit was brought by a coalition of groups including the League of Women Voters that accused Republicans of manipulating Florida's political map to favor the GOP, according to the New York Times.
A spokeswoman for the Republican Party of Florida told the New York Times that party officials weren't yet prepared to comment. The state was expected to appeal the ruling, though, so the decision is unlikely to affect this year's elections.
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