Glossip v. Gross - Opinion Announcement - June 29, 2015 (Part 4)

Glossip v. Gross

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Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - June 29, 2015 (Part 1) in Glossip v. Gross
Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - June 29, 2015 (Part 2) in Glossip v. Gross
Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - June 29, 2015 (Part 3) in Glossip v. Gross
Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 29, 2015 in Glossip v. Gross

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - June 29, 2015 (Part 4) in Glossip v. Gross

Antonin Scalia:

I have filed an opinion responding essentially to Justice Breyer's proposal that we abolish the death penalty.

I will not burden you with that.

Last Friday five Justices took the issue of same-sex marriage away from the people, on the basis of nothing but their own policy preferences.

Today two Justices announced their intention to have done with this Court's 30 year practice of merely placing unrealistic obstacles in the path of capital punishment; you heard some of them discussed in the majority opinion today, to have done with that policy and now just honestly abolish it entirely.

As it happens, unlike opposite sex marriage, the death penalty is approved by the Constitution.

You are all familiar with the provision.

No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process.

Another provision requires a grand jury indictment for all capital crimes; that is all crimes involving the death penalty.

Nonetheless, these two Justices now propose to take the issue of capital punishment entirely away from the people on the basis of nothing but their own policy preferences.

I find two of their arguments particularly wryly amusing; one is the 18 year delay.

The 18 year delay is the product of the unrealistic impediments this Court has imposed to imposition of the death penalty over the past 30 years.

And the fact that 19 states have abolished the death penalty is also largely attributable to the same thing.

It is so expensive and it takes so long to impose the death penalty.

Maybe we should celebrate the fact that two Justices are willing to kill the death penalty outright instead of pecking it to death, as has been the case.

It is not often in the law that so few have so quickly changed so much.