June 29, 2003 |
The ancient and mystifying term habeas corpus is a sentry that guards one of the most fundamental U.S. liberties. The Founding Fathers knew that the quickest way for a despotic ruler to silence dissent was to throw dissenters in jail and lose the key. Thus, Article I of the Constitution provides: "The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended. . . . " The words are Latin - meaning to "have the body" - but they translate in U.S. justice to a guarantee that citizens cannot be unlawfully imprisoned.
June 21, 1994 |
For criminal punishment to be effective, it must be handed out fairly and expeditiously. In Pennsylvania, capital punishment defies this standard. No one has been executed in the commonwealth since 1962. A contributing factor to this inactivity has been the reluctance of numerous successive governors to sign execution warrants. To Gov. Casey, who has signed 16 warrants, a "last, reasoned and unhurried inquiry" is a governor's obligation before "putting a human to death. " To many in Pennsylvania's Legislature, justice delayed is justice denied.
October 5, 1990 |
As a small group of lawmakers sarcastically chanted "kill, kill, kill," the House yesterday voted to extend the death penalty to more federal crimes and to undercut President Bush's ban on foreign-made assault weapons. In amending an anti-crime bill, the House also voted to limit a death-row inmate's use of the right of habeas corpus to appeal a sentence through the federal courts. The House approved by 271-159 a proposal by Rep. George W. Gekas (R., Pa.) to extend the death penalty to 10 more crimes and make it easier for sentencing juries to impose the penalty.
August 12, 1991
WHERE IS ALL THE PROTEST? The American government at the moment does as it pleases, but instead of being met with objection, the ministers of the state find themselves swathed in applause. We betray our best hopes and principles in what was called a war in the Persian Gulf, and the country celebrates the defeat as if it were a victory. The savings and loan associations, and now maybe also the commercial banks, burden the public treasury with ruinous debt but hardly anybody thinks to ask how it came to pass that so much was taken from so many by so few. The Supreme Court not only imposes finanical conditions on the right to free speech but also restricts the right to habeas corpus (McClesky v. Zant)
October 25, 2006
KUDOS TO Valerie Russ and the Daily News for thorough reporting of the city's dropout crisis. The numbers are indeed staggering, but you constructively highlight many steps that can be taken to alleviate this situation. The fact that many are stunned by the news that only half of the city's high school students graduate in four years suggests that the media must do a better job on this issue. We can solve this crisis, but we must ensure that these thousands of young people leaving school are invisible no more.
November 4, 1990 |
Just as his pre-election statements on the Persian Gulf have run hot and cold, President Bush's campaign speeches on behalf of Republican candidates last week tended to be scattershot and puzzling to his audiences. Stumping from Massachusetts to California last week, Bush struck almost a theme a minute in his speeches, neither focusing on a single domestic topic nor finding a particular message that seemed to resonate with voters. In Cincinnati on Friday, Bush left one Republican woman, attending a rally for House candidate J. Kenneth Blackwell, scratching her head.
January 28, 1993
They didn't even take a break. One day after the death of Justice Thurgood Marshall, a man who believed the state has no business killing its citizens, the U.S. Supreme Court returned to the task of freeing executions from all that legal folderol. This time, a majority of the court decided that innocence is not enough to merit a review of a trial that resulted in a death sentence. In other words, absent some other, more fascinating, constitutional issue, the innocent condemned should take their medicine and stop bitching about how they didn't do it. Justices Anthony "Hang 'Em High" Scalia and Clarence "Check Out This Coke" Thomas even filed a separate concurrence in which they argued the imbecilically literal point that the Constitution does not specifically provide for judicial consideration of new evidence of innocence after conviction.
May 20, 2003
Speaking of the terrorists who struck so savagely in Saudi Arabia last week, President Bush said, "The United States will find the killers, and they will learn the meaning of American justice. " This echoed a line from his last State of the Union address: "One by one, the terrorists are learning the meaning of American justice. " It's good to see the President referring to the meaning of American justice, since the man he put in charge of the nation's Department of Justice seems to have such a feeble grasp of the concept.
February 21, 2007
Dark parks cloud While the president's proposal to invest in the stewardship of our national parks is commendable, it is a silver lining in a budget that is otherwise a dark cloud for our public lands and the environment ("A lift for scenic treasures," Feb. 13). The president's budget proposes drastic cuts to the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a program that is essential to the protection of those national parks. Congress established LWCF in 1964 to acquire lands as additions to national parks and other federal lands.