Today the Supreme Court told the State of Alabama that it's okay to kill Vernon Madison, who was convicted of the 1985 murder of a police officer. While Mr. Madison is aware that he is being executed because he killed a police officer, Mr. Madison has no recollection of the murder due to a series of strokes he has suffered in prison.
Mr. Madison is 67 years old. He is legally blind. He cannot walk. And he is incontinent.
What is the point?
Other than he is black and we're talking about the Old Confederacy.
Justices Ginsburg, Breyer and Sotomayor wrote concurring opinions. Justice Ginsburg wrote that the question of whether a person who cannot remember their crime should be executed is a question that has never been addressed by the court. She also wrote that she thought the question deserved a "full hearing."
Justice Ginsburg, this was your chance. Just because the issue hasn't been raised before the Court before doesn't mean you have to vote with your colleagues to authorize a state to kill an elderly infirm man. You might as well just tell the victims of a mass shooting that your thoughts and prayers are with them and then move on to the next issue.
Justice Breyer pointed out that the execution of elderly prisoners is one that is likely to arise again and again going forward. He said he didn't think it prudent to develop rules for the execution of the elderly. Instead he wrote that we need to question the constitutionality of the death penalty.
Good for you, Justice Breyer. You had a chance to do just that and you passed. If you were serious about your qualms on the constitutionality of the death penalty you would dissent on every case upholding the death penalty and say why - just like Justices Marshall and Blackmun. But you didn't have the courage of your own convictions so you just went along with the majority.
Words are cheap. Especially when spoken by those in a position to act against an injustice. Killing Mr. Madison isn't bringing back a dead police officer. It isn't going to undo the trauma his ex-girlfriend went through. Killing Mr. Madison isn't about justice. It's about revenge. It's about a white power structure doing whatever it can to kill a black man.
And if you support the death penalty, that's what you are really supporting.