December 18, 2012

Justice Sotomayor and Murderer Advocacy

I have a critique of Justice Sotomayor’s media-ignored but highly revealing Dec. 3 dissent seeking mercy for twice-convicted triple-murderer Benny Lee Hodge. The dissent deserves attention for what it says, what it implies and what it disregards. It is a graphic illustration of the grave danger of confirming justices whose values are contrary to those of a vast majority of the public – and have no scruples about rewriting the Constitution to contain commands nowhere within the actual written document.
Sotomayor’s dissent is a call for a highly organized campaign to inform the public about how justices have abused what Justice White famously termed their “raw judicial power” and to vigorously oppose placing more justices such as Sotomayor on the Supreme Court (and lower courts).
Essentially, Sotomayor takes the position that "especially heinous" murders cannot and need not be "explained" but can and should be "mitigated," in a quest to find “at least one juror” who can be persuaded to show “respect” and “mercy” for a brutal killer who celebrated slaughtering his victims without mercy. In lecturing the Kentucky Supreme Court that this has been “clear” for 30 years, Sotomayor implicitly admits that it had never been “clear” before that – for the very good reason that such judicial concoctions never before existed because they were and are not in the Constitution.
In arguing for “mitigation” and “mercy,” Sotomayor is less than forthright. She complains of "deficient" attention to Hodge's abused childhood by his lawyer in the appealed death sentence for a single murder before the court. However, she omits that Hodge is actually facing two death sentences from two trials, for three premeditated murders and one attempted murder on two separate occasions 27 years ago, not one death sentence for one murder. And she omits that in the trial resulting in the other death sentence, Hodge’s lawyers presented “substantial” so-called mitigation evidence, including referring to his abused childhood.

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