In a rare challenge to the death penalty in Texas, a judge is considering whether to declare capital punishment unconstitutional, based on recent evidence suggesting the state has sentenced innocent people to death. Lawyers for John Edward Green, Jr., who is on trial for the murder of a Houston woman in a 2008 robbery, reportedly plan to argue Monday that the risk of wrongful conviction is unusually high in Texas due to several factors, including a history of racial discrimination in jury selection. Texas has executed more people than any other state since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976. Is it time for Texas to end executions?
Texas' problems prove capital punishment is wrong: "This is huge," says James Causey in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Texas is the nation's leader in executions, so if it declares capital punishment to be unconstitutional the effect will send shock waves around the nation. It became clear last month that the state had to make a change, after DNA tests undermined evidence used to convict a Texas man, Claude Jones, who was executed 10 years ago.
"Death penalty should be ruled unconstitutional"
The case against Texas is being trumped up: The evidence is not as convincing as anti-death penalty activists think, says Greg Gutfeld in Big Hollywood. It's true that the DNA analysis proved a hair used to link Jones to the murder scene wasn't his. But the main evidence came from his accomplices. And even if he wasn't the one who shot the liquor store owner, an "innocent person died — either directly or indirectly" — because of his actions, "strand of hair or not."
"Wrong guy executed? I don't care"
Texas should at least look into the complaints: "Even in Texas's execution-happy court system," says Zachary Roth in Yahoo! News, people are starting to question how the state is meting out capital punishment. The judge in the John Edward Green, Jr. case, Kevin Fine, has already said "it's safe to assume we execute innocent people," so most observers expect him to rule that capital punishment is unconstitutional. But whatever happens, there's enough evidence, according to legal scholars, that Texas ought to at least do an inquiry to see whether it should reform its system.
"Texas death penalty unconstitutional, lawyers to argue"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How our botched understanding of 'science' ruins everything
- How U2 became the new Nickelback
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- The secret to handling pressure like astronauts, Navy SEALs, and samurai
- Russia is stealthily threatening America with nuclear war
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Save the world... by changing how you pee
Subscribe to the Week