What is news in this NC case is that the arrogance and wrong-headedness of a member of the U.S. Supreme Court has been put on display for everyone to see. In 1994 the Supreme Court turned down a request to hear the appeal in Mr. McCollum's case. Justice Harry A. Blackmun, an eventual opponent of the death penalty had voted to hear the case. Justice Blackmun noted that Mr. McCollum had the mental age of a 9-year-old and said “this factor alone persuades me that the death penalty in this case is unconstitutional.” In fact, Justice Blackmun had completely renounced the death penalty in general saying he would, "no longer tinker with the machinery of death". He said that decisions involving the death penalty were too subjective and prone to human error for the death penalty ever to be administered constitutionally.
Unfazed by Justice Blackmun's concerns, Justice Antonin Scalia accused Justice Blackmun of attempting to “thrust a minority’s views upon the people.” Scalia strongly maintained that society had a need for the death penalty as an appropriate punishment for the most heinous of crimes. In fact, as evidence for his opinion he wrote about two cases before the Supreme Court at the time, which he believed made death by lethal injection look “enviable.” One of those cases concerned the brutal rape and murder of 11-year-old Sabrina Buie, committed in Red Springs, North Carolina. That case, the one that Justice Scalia found to be most deserving of the death penalty, is the murder for which these two men were exonerated today.
Henry McCollum was 20 when he was sentenced to death for committing the crime Scalia described. Today, he walked out of prison a free man. Like most of those who are exonerated, Mr. McCollum is looking forward instead of backward. But the ability of these two men to forgive and forget doesn't mean that the rest of us should ignore the fact that, contrary to the opinion of a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, neither of these men deserved a day in prison, much less execution. The arrogance of a society that thinks taking another person's life is justified so long as they had "a fair trial" is on full display. The belief that any system that relies on fallible humans can ever be reliable enough to kill in the name of the Government shows a complete lack of understanding basic human nature. It isn't often that a Supreme Court Justice is shown just how utterly wrong his opinions are. Luckily today, at least two men have overcome a system designed to convict the accused and have proven just how fallible our highest court can be. I wonder what Justice Scalia has to say now.
6:03 PM PT: Please see sydserious' diary that was posted just before mine for more about this.http://www.dailykos.com/...