Regarding a recent Supreme Court decision - I’d like to steer this discussion towards the points of law and constitution, rather than personal feelings on the death penalty as such.
Points of law involved:
#1 - Constitution, 10th amendment: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
#2 - Constitution itself, Section 3, Clause 2: “Clause 2: The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason…”
#3 - 18 USC 2381: “Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.”
This is interesting because in the opinion, in order for the Supreme Court to basically abolish the 10th amendment, the majority opinion reads as follows:
Our concern here is limited to crimes against individual persons. We do not address, for example, crimes defining and punishing treason, espionage, terrorism, and drug kingpin activity, which are offenses against the State. As it relates to crimes against individuals, though, the death penalty should not be expanded to instances where the victim’s life was not taken.In other words: the SC is actively saying that the right to define their own punishments is something the states do not have - that while the Federal Government is allowed to pass a law mandating death for a crime in which no murder is committed, the states themselves are somehow barred from the same.
Now, “the State”, as such, is a collection of individuals - namely, the collective individual persons (as Justice Kennedy conveniently forgets) who make up this nation. One of the whole points of the US system of government is to prevent monarchical “The State” setups that arbitrarily relegate us “individual persons” away.
One gets the feeling the framers of the Constitution are spinning in their graves. Maybe we could hook them up to a generator for some free electricity.