Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Says Executing An Innocent Man Is Not Unconstitutional

Author: September 20, 2011 6:46 am

Justice Antonin Scalia. Image from http://legalgeekery.com/2009/10/02/scalia-lawyers-do-nothing-productive-for-society/

Troy Davis has been granted a chance to challenge his conviction. Close to two decades have passed since Davis was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. But now he has a shot to overturn his conviction thanks to the nation’s highest court. The Supreme Court is giving Davis an opportunity to challenge his conviction on the grounds that seven of the witnesses against him have since recanted their testimony against him. But Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas disagree with the majority decision of their colleagues. Justice Scalia doesn’t seem to have a problem with executing innocent people because he believes that it is NOT unconstitutional.

“This Court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is “actually” innocent.  Quite to the contrary, we have repeatedly left that question unresolved, while expressing considerable doubt that any claim based on alleged “actual innocence” is constitutionally cognizable.”


I think it’s time for Scalia and Thomas to resign their positions on the bench because it is quite clear that they no longer have any business being there. Any person with even an ounce of knowledge of the law knows that a person must be proven guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt. There are many problems with the Davis conviction, especially since seven of the witnesses have come forward to admit that they wrongly accused Davis of the crime. And last time I checked, murder is a crime and killing an innocent man would be exactly that. What Scalia is basically saying is that it’s okay to execute innocent people.

Let’s say Scalia has his way. Wouldn’t that give conservative states the opportunity to put innocent people in prison and give them the go ahead to kill them at will? This is a serious situation. Putting an innocent man to death is no joke. But Scalia is treating it as if it’s really not a big deal. When a Supreme Court Justice has no problem with killing innocent men, it’s time for that person to step down. Step down, Justice Scalia. Let a judge that gives a damn about justice and law take over your spot on the bench. It’s the right thing to do.

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11 Comments

  • The system has decided. For us to change the verdict would be admitting that the system is flawed. To admit the system is flawed would be to admit the founding fathers were flawed. That would be admitting the constitution could be flawed. and since we are a nation founded on good christian values, that would call into doubt the validity of those values derived from the bible our founding fathers held in such high esteme…that would be sacreligious, and since we are a good christian nation, we wouldn’t allow our supreme court to be sacreligious…Understand now ???

    • The founding fathers knew the constitutions had difficulties because it was made by politics and few of them agreed on anything. For example slavery was not mentioned in the constitution not because not because the founds thought it was good because it would not get the southern states support if it banned it.

  • Oh Lawdy. Just spent 18 months in court. It’s a world of CONSTANT double standards. Many attorneys don’t seem to realize that they are referring to themselves when they express their viewpoints in terms of “beyond reasonable” doubt.” The constitution (and law) ideally apply to ALL individuals if not all Americans. Most judges/attorneys in this country fall under that category. Why not execute the judge based on his own logic?

  • It’s over now. It’s wrong but it’s done.
    We have to find a way to repair our judicial system. I don’t know if he is guilty or not. And that is the problem. No one knows beyond a reasonable doubt. Death is permanent. We are supposed to be the country that sets examples. If this is the example we are setting, killing a man that no one is absolutely sure is guilty, I am not proud of us any longer. Our men and women have fought too long and too hard for us. We should not be a country that allows this to happen. God forgive and the family of Mr. Davis, please forgive us.

  • One of the witnesses claims the police refused him access to medical treatment until he identified Troy Davis as the person who killed the off duty police officer. I’m sure the police believed they had the right person, but if even one witness was coerced into giving false testimony how do we know the others were not? If this is the case then he did not get a fair trial and the jury was not able to make a true verdict. There should be time to look into why seven people are now recanting their testimony, and if there truly was misconduct by the police department. This could be any of us, unless we have the money for a high price attorney with the same resources as the state. That is why the burden of proof falls on the state and not the individual; most of us don’t have the states resources.

  • While I am appalled at the opinion expressed by Justice Scalia, I must challenge one claim made in the article. In the case ocfcivil torte, the law requires only that guilt be proven by a preponderance of the evidence, and in the case of criminal court, the law requires only that guilt be proven beyond a *reasonable* doubt (NOT “beyond a shadow of a doubt”).

    I am grateful that Justice Scalia’s opinion is not the majority opinion of the court.

    • ….also, the opinion is related to the applicability of the CONSTITUTION to the matter, not the morality of it.

      The root issue of this problem is the existence of corruption at the local law level and how to combat that. While that problem is less severe in today’s times, we are seeing these “grandfather” cases that are basically corrupt judgements handed by mal-informed juries.

      There should be pressure on state judiciaries from the federal judicial level that all death sentence cases should be reviewed and recreated with great scrutiny; especially older cases.

    • In civil court, the death penalty is not an option, so I’m not sure why you mention it here.

      In criminal court, if 7 witnesses have since recanted their testimony, and several jurors have come forward to say they now have doubt about the man’s guilt, doesn’t that say that there is now REASONABLE doubt? And if so, then the death penalty should be revoked and a new trial granted.

      Eye witness testimony has been proven over and over to be THE most unreliable testimony. Given that alone, this man should not have been sentenced to death in the first place.

  • In America we are all created equal as long as we can afford a lawyer to prove it.

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