One of the more disquieting episodes in recent Supreme Court history continues to fester and is worth revisiting, for what it tells us about both where the court is today and where it may be headed.
I’m referring to the court’s back-to-back, glaringly disparate treatment of two death-row inmates, each of whom had unsuccessfully sought the presence of a spiritual adviser in the execution chamber. In the first case, Alabama, which provides Christian chaplains to death-row inmates, had denied Domineque Ray’s request for a Muslim imam. The United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, one of the most conservative federal appeals courts, had viewed the inmate’s claim of religious discrimination as sufficiently weighty that it uncharacteristically granted a stay of execution to hear further arguments.
But on Feb. 7, over four dissents, the Supreme Court granted Alabama’s request to lift the stay. Mr. Ray, sentenced to death for the 1995 rape and murder of a 15-year-old girl, was executed that night.
Six weeks later, a very similar case reached the court, a request for a stay filed by an inmate on death row in Texas, whose request for the presence of a Buddhist spiritual adviser had been rejected by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The Texas prison system employs Muslim as well as Christian chaplains, and makes either available in an inmate’s final moments. But it does not employ any Buddhists, so Buddhist spiritual advisers, like certain other members of the public, may watch an execution from behind glass in a viewing room but are not permitted to be at the inmate’s side.
On March 28, the Supreme Court granted the stay by an apparent vote of 7 to 2, with Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch noting their dissenting votes without explanation. Nor was there an opinion that spoke for the majority. A mystery, indeed. The inmate, Patrick Murphy, is notorious in Texas as a member of the “Texas Seven,” a group of escaped inmates who killed a police officer while they were on the run for a month in 2000. The stay of execution will last until Mr. Murphy’s lawyers file a formal appeal and the justices either deny it or proceed in the court’s next term to hear and decide it.
It’s a basic rule of fairness in judging, as in life, that like cases should be treated alike. What explains the court’s different treatment of two cases that appear in all significant respects to be identical? Of course, it’s also true, as any reader of judicial opinions quickly learns, that no two cases are ever completely alike; confronting a body of precedents that appear relevant to a new case before them, judges usually take pains to explain why the case at hand resembles that prior decision and is not at all like another prior decision.
Here, we have two condemned prisoners with the same claim of religious discrimination, one put to death within hours and one spared, at least for some months. Discounting the fact that one was a black Muslim and the other is a white Buddhist — I have no evidence that the court was even aware of the inmates’ race — what might account for the different treatment? Since the court didn’t favor us with an explanation, we’re left to guess.
In the first case, the unsigned paragraph that announced the lifting of the Alabama inmate’s stay of execution noted only that Mr. Ray had waited until 10 days before his scheduled execution to file his religious claim. That was two months after the state set the execution date — too late, the unsigned paragraph asserted without explanation.
But as Justice Elena Kagan countered in a dissenting opinion that Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor also signed, Mr. Ray had learned only five days before filing his stay application that the prison was denying his request for the presence of an imam. Justice Kagan noted that the state had earlier refused to give Mr. Ray a copy of the rules governing access to the execution chamber and that even the written rules were ambiguous as to whether a chaplain would be allowed in the chamber or only in the viewing room. There was “no reason,” Justice Kagan said, for Mr. Ray to have known any sooner that the state would deny his request.
As for the luckier Mr. Murphy, we learn all there is to know only from a footnote in an opinion by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the only justice who took pen to paper. Although he had voted to lift the stay in the first case, he concurred this time in granting the stay, noting that “under all the circumstances of this case, I conclude that Murphy made his request to the state in a sufficiently timely manner, one month before the scheduled execution.” (Although the other justices in the 7-to-2 majority did not identify themselves, we are left to assume that Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito also switched their votes between the two cases.)
What were “all the circumstances” that made all the difference? Was it really the difference between 10 days and one month? Or could at least one circumstance have been the widespread condemnation by religious groups of the court’s treatment of the first case? The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which appears frequently at the Supreme Court on behalf of religious claimants, filed a brief in support of the inmate in the second case that pointedly cited Justice Kagan’s dissent in the Alabama case.
I don’t know how Mr. Murphy’s case, Murphy v. Collier, will ultimately fare at the court. In fact, Texas may have rendered it moot with a move it made last week in response to Justice Kavanaugh’s concurring opinion. In addition to the footnote about all the circumstances, Justice Kavanaugh mused in his two-page opinion about what should happen next. “For this kind of claim, there would be at least two possible equal-treatment remedies available to the state going forward,” he wrote. One was to allow any chaplain of any inmate’s choice into the execution room. The other was to permit no chaplains there at all. “The choice of remedy going forward is up to the state,” he concluded. “What the state may not do, in my view, is allow Christian or Muslim inmates but not Buddhist inmates to have a religious adviser of their religion in the execution room.”
Well, guess what? The Texas prison system promptly banned all chaplains from the execution chamber, effective immediately. Like cases will indeed be treated alike by the execution-happy state of Texas.
What’s striking here is that the state acted not on the basis of an opinion from the Supreme Court but on the basis of an opinion by Justice Kavanaugh, speaking for himself. This was hardly the first time the newest justice failed to suppress the urge to explain himself. In February, the court granted a stay of a Louisiana law that would, if allowed to go into effect, force most of the state’s few remaining abortion providers out of business.
Justice Kavanaugh was one of four dissenters. He wrote that there was no need for a formal stay, because Louisiana would not begin enforcing the law for 45 days, during which time the doctors who have been unable to meet the law’s requirement for admitting privileges at local hospitals could keep trying. His solitary opinion, seemingly aimed at portraying his dissenting vote as reasonable, was oblivious to the fact that the trial court had found that the doctors had been repeatedly stiffed by Louisiana hospitals, sometimes for years.
And again last week, Justice Kavanaugh wrote a separate concurring opinion to explain why he was joining the 5-to-4 majority in a bitterly disputed death penalty case. The court permitted Missouri to execute by lethal injection an inmate with a rare medical condition that the inmate claimed would cause him much greater than typical suffering during the time it would take him to die. The inmate’s case, Bucklew v. Precythe, had yet to go to trial; the state had prevailed on summary judgment. So the only question for the Supreme Court was whether to reverse the summary judgment to permit the inmate, Russell Bucklew, to try to prove at trial that this particular method of execution, as applied to him, would amount to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
Mr. Bucklew, convicted of murdering a man his ex-girlfriend was living with, was not challenging his conviction or death sentence, only the method of execution. Four years ago, in Glossip v. Gross, the Supreme Court rejected a constitutional challenge to a lethal injection protocol, ruling that anyone bringing such a generalized challenge must be able to point to an alternative method of execution that would cause less pain. Mr. Bucklew argued that the precedent did not apply in his case, because he was not challenging lethal injection in general, but only as it applied to his specific medical situation. But he also offered, as a possible alternative, execution by nitrogen hypoxia, an inert gas that causes rapid death and that death-penalty states are adopting as an alternative to the increasingly unavailable lethal injection drugs. Not good enough, Justice Gorsuch wrote for the majority; the method had not yet been adopted in Missouri, and Mr. Bucklew had in any event failed to prove that it would give him a significantly less painful death.
Justice Kavanaugh signed the majority opinion and then, in a separate concurring opinion, proceeded to sugarcoat it. “I write to underscore the court’s additional holding that the alternative method of execution need not be authorized under current state law,” he wrote. In other words, the majority opinion — and by implication, his own vote — wasn’t really as harsh as it seemed. But this was puzzling. He didn’t address the fact that the decision placed the burden on a death-row inmate to show that a different method would be less painful. And whatever the majority believed about the theoretical prospect of different methods, the fact is that Mr. Bucklew was out of luck. “Choosing not to be the first to experiment with a new method of execution is a legitimate reason to reject it,” Justice Gorsuch wrote, approving Missouri’s refusal to consider the alternative the inmate had proposed.
There aren’t many rules at the Supreme Court. The court runs on habits and norms, some as mundane as the unwritten rule that at the justices’ private conference, no one speaks twice until everyone has spoken once. One norm is that what matters is the vote. Everyone has one and only one. Don’t straddle. Don’t obfuscate. Don’t, in your own voice, tell states what they can and can’t do. In a less polite environment, these norms might be reduced to “Shut up and vote.” And be willing to live with the consequences. Becoming a Supreme Court justice requires climbing a certain learning curve. Brett Kavanaugh is still climbing.
Contemplating the trajectory from the Alabama imam case in February through last week’s lethal-injection decision, I find myself as concerned about the welfare of our Supreme Court as I have ever been. People often cite Bush v. Gore, the case that resolved the 2000 presidential election, as some sort of low point for the court. But I saw that decision then, and I still do, as a one-off of sorts, driven by extraordinary circumstances. It was traumatic inside the court, to be sure, but the justices took a deep breath and got back to work.
Now I feel as if I’m watching not a traumatic thunderclap but a steady corrosion of the justices’ ability to work together and a corresponding loss of situational awareness of the court’s place in the political order and in American society. Was the 5-to-4 ruling in the Alabama case simply a hasty mistake, driven by certain justices’ intense disdain for the death-penalty bar and the suspicion, expressed repeatedly by Justice Alito, that even perfectly plausible claims are nothing more than manipulations?
Although Justice Gorsuch was the author of the Bucklew decision, it is impossible to read his majority opinion without hearing Justice Alito’s voice. This was especially true in the 30-page opinion’s concluding paragraphs, in which Justice Gorsuch complained that Mr. Bucklew “has managed to secure delay through lawsuit after lawsuit.” He warned that “courts should police carefully against attempts to use such challenges as tools to interpose unjustified delay.” And surprisingly, he included a fat but unpersuasive footnote concerning the Alabama case, expanding on the majority’s cryptic claim that the inmate in that case had no excuse for not having filed his case earlier. Clearly, the justices are not at rest with what happened in that pair of cases and feel compelled to keep up their argument in public.
The cases I’ve discussed here that were not, as they reached the court, on many people’s radar — not the high-profile cases like the Trump administration’s defense of adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census, in a case to be argued this month, or the immigration, abortion and Affordable Care Act cases now filling the pipeline to the Supreme Court. Looking ahead, is there any chance the court will avoid mirroring the country’s cavernous polarization — and any way we won’t all be the poorer if that proves to be the case?
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2014年12生肖特码表【忘】【川】【之】【上】【的】【两】【军】【交】【战】【就】【这】【样】【停】【了】【下】【来】，【俊】【艺】【此】【时】【还】【是】【待】【罪】【之】【身】，【这】【里】【怕】【是】【不】【能】【留】【下】【来】【的】，【他】【现】【在】【唯】【一】【能】【做】【的】，【便】【是】【跟】【着】【天】【兵】【一】【起】【返】【回】【天】【宫】。 【除】【了】【刚】【刚】【那】【个】【诀】【别】【的】【眼】【神】，【俊】【艺】【什】【么】【都】【没】【给】【曦】【和】【留】【下】。【曦】【和】【看】【着】【俊】【艺】【离】【去】【的】【背】【影】，【第】【一】【次】【觉】【得】【自】【己】【当】【时】【的】【决】【定】【是】【错】【误】【的】。 【其】【实】，【彼】【此】【纠】【缠】【又】【如】【何】【呢】？【终】【归】【他】【在】，【也】【终】
【鼓】【声】【闭】，【众】【人】【的】【目】【光】，【皆】【看】【向】【宫】【门】【进】【口】【处】，【可】【始】【终】【没】【有】【看】【到】【陌】【殇】【璃】【的】【身】【影】。【这】【下】【太】【下】【的】【众】【人】，【再】【也】【控】【制】【不】【住】【的】，【议】【论】【声】【四】【起】。 【背】【对】【着】【台】【下】【的】【帝】【天】【乐】，【听】【到】【众】【人】【毫】【不】【掩】【饰】【的】【议】【论】【声】，【帝】【天】【乐】【的】【心】，【狠】【狠】【的】【抽】【痛】【了】【一】【下】。 【她】【心】【痛】，【不】【是】【因】【为】【众】【人】【的】【大】【声】【议】【论】，【而】【是】【因】【为】，【那】【个】【自】【己】【最】【爱】，【最】【信】【任】【的】【男】【人】，【最】【终】【还】【是】【抛】
【纠】【结】【中】，【季】【禹】【希】【的】【声】【音】【再】【次】【传】【来】，【他】【说】：“【如】【果】【有】【也】【没】【关】【系】【的】，【我】【会】【祝】【福】【你】，【真】【的】。” 【话】【语】【中】，【是】【要】【她】【承】【认】【的】【意】【思】【吗】？ 【张】【了】【张】【口】，【夏】【歆】【童】【想】【跟】【他】【解】【释】【来】【着】，【想】【告】【诉】【他】，【自】【己】【并】【没】【心】【仪】【的】【对】【象】，【只】【是】【话】【到】【嘴】【边】，【才】【发】【现】【喉】【咙】【里】【仿】【佛】【像】【是】【被】【什】【么】【东】【西】【给】【卡】【住】，【使】【得】【她】【压】【根】【发】【不】【出】【声】【音】。 【这】【一】【刻】，【夏】【歆】【童】【看】【向】【他】【的】
【柒】【瑶】【躺】【在】【床】【上】，【脸】【色】【苍】【白】，【因】【为】【疼】【痛】【整】【个】【眉】【头】【皱】【在】【一】【起】，【纱】【衣】【被】【汗】【水】【浸】【透】【贴】【在】【身】【上】，【眼】【角】【还】【挂】【着】【泪】【痕】。 【妙】【春】【上】【仙】【取】【了】【一】【枚】【上】【次】【配】【制】【的】【药】【丸】【给】【她】【和】【水】【服】【下】，【使】【疼】【痛】【稍】【稍】【减】【弱】。 【锦】【绣】【站】【在】【床】【边】【神】【情】【不】【安】，【两】【手】【交】【握】，【手】【指】【紧】【紧】【纠】【在】【一】【起】，【指】【甲】【陷】【入】【皮】【肉】【却】【丝】【毫】【感】【觉】【不】【到】【痛】【楚】。【她】【在】【担】【心】，【担】【心】【伤】【害】【栖】【梧】【的】【事】【情】【会】【败】【露】
【那】【魔】【爪】【放】【在】【赵】【乾】【坤】【脑】【袋】【上】【的】【瞬】【间】【便】【停】【住】【了】！ 【锋】【利】【的】【指】【甲】，【微】【微】【地】【点】【在】【赵】【乾】【坤】【的】【额】【头】【和】【太】【阳】【穴】【上】，【突】【然】【轻】【轻】【地】【抓】【了】【一】【下】！ 【这】【不】【像】【是】【攻】【击】，【更】【像】【是】【瘙】【痒】。 【也】【确】【实】【弄】【得】【赵】【乾】【坤】【额】【头】【一】【阵】【痒】【痒】，【忍】【不】【住】【抬】【手】【去】【挠】。 “【切】！”【身】【后】【那】【攻】【击】【的】【身】【影】【不】【满】【的】【娇】【嗔】【了】【一】【声】：“【都】【看】【到】【九】【姑】【姑】【了】，【还】【想】【着】【隐】【者】【先】【生】【呢】，【就】【不】2014年12生肖特码表【花】【生】【米】【的】【高】【度】【不】【高】【不】【低】，【被】【抛】【到】【嘴】【边】【时】，【上】【势】【已】【竭】，【开】【始】【下】【落】，【正】【在】【这】【时】，【那】【憨】【厚】【汉】【子】【轻】【轻】【一】【吸】，【花】【生】【米】【方】【向】【改】【变】，【正】【正】【的】【靠】【入】【汉】【子】【的】【口】【中】。 【汉】【子】【轻】【轻】【咀】【嚼】，【口】【中】【咯】【咯】【有】【声】，【油】【炸】【花】【生】【米】【被】【他】【的】【牙】【齿】【研】【磨】【的】【细】【细】【碎】【碎】，【那】【食】【用】【油】【的】【清】【香】【和】【花】【生】【的】【酥】【焦】【香】【气】【混】【在】【一】【起】，【开】【始】【一】【点】【点】【在】【空】【气】【中】【弥】【漫】【开】【来】，【冲】【击】【着】【叶】【然】【的】【感】
“【别】【管】【我】，【杀】【了】【他】【们】，【杀】【了】【萧】【沙】……” 【随】【后】【而】【来】【的】【四】【个】【菱】【族】【大】【战】【士】【现】【身】【之】【际】，【一】【滩】【烂】【泥】【一】【样】【躺】【在】【地】【面】【的】【领】【头】【之】【菱】【放】【声】【大】【叫】【拒】【绝】【了】【一】【个】【身】【形】【一】【晃】【下】【去】【扶】【它】【的】【大】【战】【士】【的】【好】【意】，【抬】【手】【指】【着】【那】【头】【赫】【蒙】【云】【烈】【和】【萧】【沙】：“【几】【位】，【菱】【族】【死】【敌】【在】【此】【杀】【了】【他】……【让】【他】【死】” “【可】【你】【的】【伤】【势】……” 【四】【个】【菱】【族】【大】【战】【士】【中】，【被】【它】【喝】【止】【在】【半】
“【等】【等】！【我】【只】【想】【跟】【你】【道】【别】，【过】【了】【今】【晚】，【我】【就】【要】【赶】【往】【月】【阴】【山】……【以】【后】【的】【日】【子】，【多】【保】【重】。” 【她】【驻】【足】【静】【听】，【待】【回】【头】【时】，【烈】【凛】【已】【经】【走】【远】，【左】【右】【而】【行】【的】【脚】【步】，【彼】【此】【之】【间】【的】【牵】【绊】【化】【了】【烟】【云】。 “【你】【也】【要】【保】【重】……”【想】【这】【么】【说】，【却】【终】【没】【有】【说】【出】【口】。 “【听】【到】【了】？【他】【要】【参】【加】
【程】【潇】【潇】【生】【了】【一】【对】【儿】【双】【胞】【胎】。 【这】【个】【事】【情】【真】【是】【打】【破】【了】【所】【有】【人】【的】【眼】【镜】。 【更】【是】【让】【叶】【釉】【笑】【到】【邻】【居】【报】【警】。 【在】【江】【尧】【疯】【狂】【努】【力】【的】【情】【况】【下】，【婚】【礼】【半】【年】【之】【后】，【程】【潇】【潇】【如】【愿】【有】【了】【宝】【宝】。 【以】【至】【于】【江】【述】【在】【江】【母】【那】【里】【都】【不】【受】【宠】【了】，【整】【个】【江】【家】【全】【都】【变】【成】【了】【围】【着】【孕】【妇】【转】【的】【地】【方】。 【别】【说】【是】【公】【司】，【连】【出】【一】【趟】【家】【门】，【都】【必】【须】【要】【有】【人】【跟】【着】，【用】【叶】
【鸡】【哥】【的】【意】【识】【看】【到】【了】【五】【辆】【仿】【佛】【小】【山】【一】【样】【的】【公】【交】【车】。 【车】【外】【面】【挂】【着】【很】【多】【猪】，【看】【起】【来】【就】【好】【像】【过】【年】【前】【晾】【晒】【的】【火】【腿】。【车】【内】【不】【断】【有】【猪】【头】【人】【跳】【下】【来】，【然】【后】【双】【腿】【一】【软】，【踉】【跄】【地】【跪】【在】【地】【上】。 【一】【个】【还】【能】【说】【是】【意】【外】，【可】【是】【从】【车】【上】【跳】【下】【来】【的】【猪】【头】【人】【每】【个】【都】【要】【来】【这】【么】【一】【下】，【这】【就】【让】【鸡】【哥】【一】【头】【雾】【水】【了】。【难】【道】【说】【这】【是】【地】【球】【人】【特】【殊】【的】【下】【车】【方】【式】？ 【鸡】