DimWit Politics

California governor voids the rule-of-law with death penalty moratorium

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California governor voids the rule-of-law with death penalty moratorium

California governor voids the rule-of-law with death penalty moratorium
March 18
09:30 2019

We often say that America is distinguished by its devotion to the rule-of-law as opposed to the rule-of-men (or women). It is a rule that seems to have as many exceptions as hard-and-fast rules. California Governor Gavin Newsom is a case in point.

California has a death penalty. That is the law enacted by a past state legislature and signed by a past governor. That is the “law” which the people of California presumably endorsed through the election of all those state senators and representatives who voted in favor of a death penalty – and the governor who signed it.

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The law also provides provisions that determine what crimes are sufficiently heinous to warrant a death penalty. It is a decision that first rests with the prosecutors — who must determine if they are going to request death as the ultimate punishment in the court proceedings. It is then up to judges and juries to reach the final verdict and to impose the maximum sentence – after which there is a long appeals process. That is how it is done when we have the law take precedence – when we follow the rule-of-law.

Those who find themselves on death row have gone through a critical and lengthy judicial process. They have been arrested and charged with the most serious capital crimes – in virtually all cases involving the intentional murder of one or more people. Their case has been presented to juries who carefully considered both the prosecution AND defense arguments. That panel of peers also listened to special pleas to set aside the death penalty in favor of life in prison. They then rendered their verdicts.

In many of these cases, the media coverage reported that the families of victims were relieved, comforted and found closure in the final outcome – or at least what they thought would be the final outcome.

Now … governors do have the power to alter or commute a sentence — or pardon a convicted felon altogether – even in death penalty cases. Historically, this power has been understood to apply to individual cases where extenuating and extreme circumstances come into play – such as terminal illness, perceived prejudicial sentencing or a record of rehabilitation. Gubernatorial mercy has been very rare for the most vicious of criminals – as it should be.

Because of a number of technical delays – and the agonizingly slow judicial process between the verdict and the actual carrying out of the morbid sentencing – California has 737 prisoners awaiting execution, with 25 who have exhausted their cruel and unusual appeal process – cruel and unusual for the families of victims. What ever happened to the Constitutional guarantee of “swift and certain” justice? But I digress.
With most of the technical issues resolved, California was on the threshold of being the number one execution state in America.

Recently, Newsom put a moratorium on the death penalties of all those on “death row” in California. Make no mistake. The governor is not proposing another technical delay. He wants to end all executions permanently. He has declared himself, personally, to be the “backstop” to death penalty sentencing.

In doing that, Newsom has set aside the rule-of-law and used his official executive power to express and enforce his personal opinion. He placed his opinion over prosecutors, judges, juries and the law, itself. It was the rule of one man against the collective rulings of the legislature and judiciary.
He issued the order without having gone through the legal process that put the reprobates on death row. He did not make the case in each individual instance to establish any merits for commutation. He did it regardless of the brutality and grisliness of the crime. He posed the question, “Do we have the right to kill?” Legally and Constitutionally, the answer is yes.

What he claims to be an act of moral compassion was, in fact, a brutal disregard for the families of the victims. He literally ripped open the emotional wounds of those who suffered unfathomable loses. In many cases, he filled them with rage and undermined their trust in the rule-of-law. They had every reason to hope and believe that THEY – not the ne’er-do-wells on death row – would have the consideration and protection of a just society.

As far as I could discover, Newsom gave no hint of his intention during the campaign – which means he did not seek or receive even an unofficial mandate by plebiscite. If Newsom was determined to end the death penalty, the proper course of action would have been to lay his case before the California legislature and have them pass legislation to change the law – which he could then sign. That is how it is done under the rule-of-law. But he well knew that the bodies representing the people of California may not approve his proposal. California voters rejected an initiative to abolish the death penalty and in 2016, they narrowly approved Proposition 66 to help speed it up.

What Newsom did was an authoritarian decision and another blow against the democratic system and the rule-of-law .

So, there ‘tis.

About Author

Larry Horist

Larry Horist

Larry Horist is a conservative activist with an extensive background in economics, public policy and politics. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman, as well as the White House. He has testified as an expert witness before legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress, and lectured at major colleges and universities. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He can be reached at lph@thomasandjoyce.com.

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  1. LC
    LC March 18, 15:31

    What Newson did was in keeping with the mineset of California politics. Never mind what the people want, I’m the boss and they WILL do what I want. Just another power hungary liberal.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Sardonicus
    Sardonicus March 18, 15:54

    Can Newsom’s action be stopped in any way?

    Reply to this comment
  3. Steve G
    Steve G March 18, 16:25

    Newsomes question, “do we have the right to kill”, is in defense of killers. Did they have the right to kill? What’s to prevent others from doing the same if we don’t establish a deterrent. What’s wrong and what’s right if we don’t recognize the difference? Consequences for bad behavior is as normal as gravity! “For every action there’s an opposite and equal reaction”!

    Reply to this comment
    • Truth
      Truth April 01, 02:39

      Read the book Know the Truth by Mllne which includes Bible verses. The sword of justice belongs to God and He gives it to the government which includes the death pebalty.

      Reply to this comment
  4. fatamagooch
    fatamagooch March 18, 17:29


    Reply to this comment
  5. Tami Alexander
    Tami Alexander March 23, 18:30

    Thank you, Larry! Gavin Newsom was NEVER qualified to take the office of Governor based on his biased against the Death Penalty and it’s merits to somehow right a wrong. Gavin Newsom, Xavier Baccera, and formally Kamalia Harris should have never raised their right hands and sworn to “represent” the people in leu of preserving and protecting their own personal agendas.
    My husband, Kermit Alexander, was the figure head of prop 66. To say that we had a biased view on death penalty reform would be an understatement but as citizens of California we were ready to accept the will of the outcome of the battle between prop 66 and the opposing prop 62. If the voters were willing to do away with the death penalty then we would have to accept the outcome and get on with our lives. But Gavin, Cavier and Kamalia have robbed us of our democratic process and we feel have cheated the citizens of California. God help us all. The political inbreeding between the Browns, Newsoms, Gettys and Pilosis have shifted California into a Liberal choke hold that I personably feel would take Sampson-like strength to turn around.
    The adhesive most victims feel is “betrayal.” God help us all.

    Reply to this comment

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