Thursday, September 08, 2005


The usual hypocrisies were on display at yesterday’s service for William H. Rehnquist, chief justice for the Supreme Court, some inspired by grief for the dead, some by a political agenda. The most notable was by Cardinal Theodore W. McCarrick, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Washington, who hailed Rehnquist as “a tireless champion of life.”

It really depends, doesn’t it? Consider this from Monday’s edition of The New York Times:

“The existence of the death penalty in this country is virtually an illusion,” [Rehnquist] declared in a typical dissent in 1981, complaining that “virtually nothing happens except endlessly drawn-out legal proceedings.” No other member of the court joined him.

But eventually not only a majority of the court but Congress as well — due in part to Chief Justice Rehnquist’s advocacy from his platform as head of the Judicial Conference of the United States, the judiciary’s policy-making arm — agreed that there were too many procedural obstacles blocking states from carrying out the death penalty. Through the interaction of legislation and Supreme Court decisions, the pace of executions quickened sharply through the 1990’s.

At least the cardinal could have qualified his words somewhat, crediting Rehnquist instead for being “a tireless champion of some life” or “indisputably innocent life” or “a tireless champion of the right of unwanted babies to have lives that could someday lead them to kill others and be executed for it by lethal injection ... or not.”


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eric said...

As much as I hope this "fantastic blog" is something that makes you want to "keep it up," I have a quibble here. The death sentence and abortion are not equal, they just got flip flopped in the late 70s and early 80s as a quid pro quo. Hmmmmm...said the conservatives, we'll agree with individual rights, but we won't agree with the rights of "real killers." It's like when you'd be a kid at Santa Cruz or the Boardwalk and you patiently keep riding the merry-go round to grab the golden at a time. Not to go much into political theory or history here, but I think the conservatives have just done a better job of learning to be patient after they got their butts kicked right after Watergate. (And, no, I'm not a Tri-lateral Commission wingnut.)

(I hope.)


Scape7 said...

I'm not sure what your comment's third, fourth and fifth sentences mean, nor how they relate. What I do know is that, at the very least, the conservative boasts about a "culture of life" ring hollow when they keep being so gung-ho about killing people, even "collateral damage," so (also at the very least) they should qualify their cultural claim. A culture of innocent life, a culture of our kind of life, a culture of the right kind of life, whatever. But they cannot rightly claim a basic culture of life, and it is this claim — not me — that equates the death sentence and abortion.

Furthermore, we keep learning that "innocent" people are on death row and have, in fact, been executed, which helps equal out the moral iffiness of the two kinds of killing, wouldn't you say? What's the conservative/Christian stance on killing innocent grown-ups these days? That “accidents will happen”?

eric said...

All I was saying is that the Republicans seized an opportunity and have slowly gone about it to reverse the issue. In those sentences, I was trying to say that they played along with the abortion issue and made the death sentence their march. Now they are going for it all. That's all. Get the cake and eat it, too.

Scape7 said...

So your quibble, basically, is that I shouldn't point out hypocrisy if the Republicans display superior political strategy?