In the four days since the U.S. Supreme Court granted condemned Georgia inmate Troy Davis an extra day in court, the legal community has been buzzing over this dissenting line written by Justice Antonin Scalia and endorsed by colleague Clarence Thomas:
“This court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is ‘actually’ innocent. Quite to the contrary, we have repeatedly left that question unresolved, while expressing considerable doubt that any claim based on alleged ‘actual innocence’ is constitutionally cognizable.”
Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz, a civil liberties lawyer, offers this hypothetical in the Daily Beast:
Let us be clear precisely what this means.
If a defendant were convicted, after a constitutionally unflawed trial, of murdering his wife, and then came to the Supreme Court with his very much alive wife at his side, and sought a new trial based on newly discovered evidence (namely that his wife was alive), these two justices would tell him, in effect: “Look, your wife may be alive as a matter of fact, but as a matter of constitutional law, she’s dead, and as for you, Mr. Innocent Defendant, you’re dead, too, since there is no constitutional right not to be executed merely because you’re innocent.”
— This morning, state Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond announced that the state unemployment rate had inched up a few percentage points to 10.3 percent.
“Although layoffs are moderating, nearly a half-million Georgians are officially unemployed,” said State Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond. “These jobless workers could comprise a mythical unemployment line that stretches from Dalton to Atlanta, through Macon and down to Valdosta.”
No, it wouldn’t, actually. As we’ve discussed in this space before, human beings, on average, take up two square feet of space. So a line of 500,000 people — with no break — would stretch 1 million feet. Or roughly 190 miles.
In other words, from Dalton to Perry. That’s 120 miles or so short of Valdosta. Still a long line, but facts is facts.
— According to The Hill newspaper, this movement includes U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss:
Several Republican senators are urging Attorney General Eric Holder to scrap plans to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate CIA officials who interrogated suspected terrorists.
In a letter to Holder sent Wednesday, nine GOP Senators including Sen. Kit Bond (Mo.), the ranking member of the Intelligence Committee, said that the appointment of a special prosecutor could “have serious consequences, not just for the honorable members of the intelligence community, but also for the security of all Americans.”
— Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz, who gave one of the most accurate predictions of Barack Obama’s victory last year, has a piece this morning at Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball.
The topic is the myth of the independent voter:
The large majority of independent identifiers lean toward one of the two major parties and these independent partisans are virtually indistinguishable from regular partisans in political outlook or behavior. It therefore makes no sense to view independents as a homogenous bloc of floating voters. Independents are sharply divided along party lines just like the rest of the American electorate.
While you ponder the above, consider these items found while perusing this morning’s ajc.com:
Georgia DOT may have balanced its budget. Engineer confirmed for new DOT post. Synovus unloading repo homes to clear bad loans. Creative Loafing, newspaper siblings up for auction. Georgia colleges hold the course on U.S. News rankings. Gwinnett County begins immigration checks on businesses. Fulton County sets 2009 tax rate. Atlanta man dumped three tons of human limbs, medical waste.
Your Luckovich fix. Kyle Wingfield on Jesse Spikes’ effort to tap into voter angst. President Obama: We must loosen health insurance industry’s grip. Newt Gingrich: Competition, not rationing, is the cure for health care reform.
And from elsewhere:
NYT: CIA sought Blackwater’s help in plan to kill jihadists. WP: Public opinion in U.S. turns against the war in Afghanistan. WSJ: Federal deficit projection trimmed for 2009.
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