Monday, 25 December 2006
Posted: December 25, 2006
1:00 a.m. Eastern
By Doug Powers
Is the United States becoming Euro-assimilated as it concerns the death penalty? The following two paragraphs are from a recent statement by the Secretary General of the ''Council of Europe'' (For a visual of the CoE, picture members of the Superfriends' ''Hall of Justice'' but with shoddy dental work, breath that reeks of Chateau Mouton Rothschild, and whose only superpower is the ability to speed-dial Jimmy Carter):
Capital punishment in the United States of America is on its deathbed after the ruling by a court in California to the effect that a lethal injection is unconstitutional and the decision by the governor of Florida to suspend all executions after the terrible experience of the last execution in this state.
Judge Fogel in California may still think the death penalty can be fixed, but these decisions nevertheless mark the definitive beginning of the end. It may take another couple of years, but the United States of America is on its way to join the rest of the civilized world where this inhuman and barbaric punishment has already been rejected. I have no doubt that this trend is welcomed by a lot of Americans who, given a proper choice, prefer just security to cruel revenge.
Europe seems to be taking a huge interest in U.S. policy, and the U.S. seems to be listening. The next thing you know, we'll be driving in the other lane (Nicole Richie: drunk driver, or visionary trendsetter?) and the United States will be so pasteurized and passive that we'll be unable to save Europe the next time the Germans have too much to drink.
And why does Europe take such an interest? It's not because they're passive observers. Europe knows that many American judges actually look to Europe instead of the U.S. Constitution when pulling their decisions out of a hat.
Consider as a shining example Anthony Kennedy of the U.S. Supreme Court. While many issues decided by the Court can and should be debated, often it's their reasoning, or lack thereof, that we should find most troubling. For example, when the Supreme Court decided that juveniles cannot be executed, Justice Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion in the case, and blurted out this gem:
"The stark reality is that the United States is the only country in the world that continues to give official sanction to the juvenile death penalty. It is proper that we acknowledge the overwhelming weight of international opinion against the juvenile death penalty."
Somebody has loosened the constitutional wheels on the intellectual Hoverounds of all too many American judges.
''The United States is the only country in the world that gives sanction to …''?
What does the U.S. Constitution say? Who cares? As long as nobody in the world cries ''sacre bleu,'' all too many American judged think they've done their jobs.
Legal rulings in the U.S. that lend credence to European opinion most certainly do not go unnoticed in Europe. They have pull now in the U.S. courts, and they know it.
I used to be gung-ho about the death penalty, but given its current status in many of the 38 states where it's still legal, I'd rather scrap it and just have the convicts keep on making license plates or writing children's books.
Why? Two reasons. First, by the time the decades-long appeals process is exhausted, we've forgotten what it was the guy was on death row for. Secondly, I've come to the realization that as long as there are prosecutors such as Mike Nifong running around, there's always a chance that we could be putting innocent people to death.
All I ask is this: if we get rid of the death penalty across the board, don't tell the Council of Europe. Let 'em sweat this one out. As a matter of fact, let's use the opportunity to ''clean house.'' Tell the CoE that the United States has decided to expand capital punishment laws to include more minor crimes – such as being a shoplifter or a foreign telemarketer – and our new methods of execution will be either throwing a plugged-in toaster in a bathtub or being tied to the front bumper of a Kennedy's car.
Let the CoE know that this will happen unless, of course, Europe wants to save all of our condemned prisoners by accepting them with open arms into their countries.
Come on, Europe. Only you can save the United States from itself. Accept our condemned prisoners now and save their lives! To sweeten the deal, we'll gladly throw in Anthony Kennedy and California's entire Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.