Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Virginia: The "Politics" of an Execution

The State of Virginia appears to be headed toward the execution of Kevin Green and the "politics" of the situation could not be more dynamic. Governor Timothy M. Kaine (D) personally opposes the death penalty. He did not hide this position during his gubernatorial campaign, but promised that, if elected, he would objectively enforce the laws of his state - which so allow for the penalty. Of course, Kaine's opponents were skeptical.

When the U.S. Supreme Court decided to review the constitutionality of lethal injection (the method employed in Virginia), Kaine decided to place a temporary moratorium on executions in the state. Kaine, of course, argued that he was reasonably erring on the side of caution. And several other states had already done the same thing. But Kaine's critics were quick to shout "AH-HAAA!" In their minds, the campaign promises were pure hot air, null and void. When the Court's final ruling let lethal injection stand, however, Governor Kaine lifted his temporary reprieve, allowing for today's scheduled execution of Mr. Green.

Kevin Green's lawyers argue that their client is mentally disabled and deserves a commutation of sentence (to life in prison). From the standpoint of Governor Kaine, it seems that the pertinent question is not whether or not Mr. Green is mentally disabled so much as it is this: "Is it reasonable to conclude that he might be." If so, a commutation of his death sentence seems quite appropriate, regardless of the certain mass and predictable intensity of the "AH-HAAA"s to follow.

Kaine never promised to execute everyone on the state's "death row" no matter what. And no governor (or candidate) ever should.

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