No Execution if Four Justices Object
Death penalty cases have received a tremendous amount of attention in recent years. Some states have eliminated execution as a form of punishment while others have aggressively used it. For those facing the death penalty, their last hope is the U.S. Supreme Court. However, four justices are needed to review a case and five votes are required to stay an execution. Professor Freedman’s lecture will review the history, policy and procedural nuances of the Supreme Court’s role in applying the death penalty, and provide recommendations for future Supreme Court policy.
The press noted the proposal discussed herein and linked to the attached article when the issue arose in a highly-visible case during 2015.
Adam Liptak, Execution Case Highlights the Power of One Vote, N.Y. Times, Jan. 6, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/26/us/in-taking-up-execution-drugs-case-justices-highlight-importance-of-a-single-vote.html?_r=0;
Author Linda Greenhouse also commented that adoption of this “sensible idea” would “save the court from itself."
Linda Greenhouse, The Supreme Court’s Death Trap, N.Y Times, Apr. 1, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/01/opinion/the-supreme-courts-death-trap.html
There was a similar flurry in another case at the end of 2016.
Adam Liptak, The Lethal Gaps in How the Supreme Court Handles the Death Penalty, N.Y. Times, Dec. 12, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/12/us/politics/the-lethal-gaps-in-how-the-supreme-court-handles-the-death-penalty.html
Freedman, Eric M., "No Execution if Four Justices Object" (2017). Hofstra University Distinguished Faculty Lecture Series. 13.