The Greenhouse Effect—Seducing Senile Supremes
Last week, the Supreme Court held, 7 to 2, that
Kentucky`s method of lethal injection remains a
constitutional way of executing the rapist of a child.
Justice John Paul Stevens concurred.
In his opinion, however, Stevens exhilarated liberals by
coming out of the closet as a born-again abolitionist of
Said His Honor, it is time to reconsider the
"justification for the death penalty itself". Court
decisions and state actions that justify it are but
"the product of habit and inattention rather than an
acceptable and deliberative process".[Baze v.Rees
For his defection to the abolitionist camp, the
88-year-old justice was rewarded with her patented deep
massage by Linda Greenhouse, the veteran—and after 30
years retiring—Supreme Court reporter of the New York
"When Justice John Paul Stevens intervened in a Supreme
Court argument on Wednesday to score a few points off
the lawyer who was defending the death penalty for the
rape of a child, the courtroom audience saw a master
strategist at work, fully in command of the flow of the
argument and the smallest details of the case. For those
accustomed to watching Justice Stevens, it was a
Stevens Renounces Capital Punishment, April 18,
For rolling over on its back, the dog gets its tummy
To Greenhouse, Stevens` flip on capital punishment,
following his flip to favor affirmative action,
represents the "culmination of a remarkable journey
for a Republican antitrust lawyer".
It sure does. But had Stevens moved from left to right,
rather than the reverse, one imagines Greenhouse`s
enthusiasm for the "master strategist" would have
been well contained.
What we see here is a textbook example of what U.S.
Judge Laurence Silberman calls
"The Greenhouse Effect".
This is the effect on
aging and weak-minded Republican justices, like
Sandra Day O`Connor and John Paul Stevens, of the
lure of fawning publicity, if they will but recant their
convictions and embrace the agenda of the left.
The Faustian bargain these justices are offered is
favorable media, comparisons to great liberal jurists of
Louis Brandeis and
Hugo Black, and repeated references to how they have
"evolved", and "grown", and are being
"strange new respect".
When they accept such media favors, these justices,
nominated by Republican presidents to restore
constitutionalism to the court, begin to receive
ovations at establishment dinners and turn up on the
most desirable party lists. Where once they were the
"clones of Scalia",
suddenly, they are jurists of "independent thought".
Stevens, however, as Greenhouse is swift to remind him,
has a ways to go if he wishes to make it to Cooperstown.
renunciation of capital punishment in the lethal
injection case, Baze v. Rees, was … low key and
undramatic. While reminiscent of Justice Harry
Blackmun`s similar step, shortly before his retirement
in 1994, Justice Stevens` opinion lacked the ringing
`From this day forward, I no longer shall tinker with
the machinery of death.`"
Greenhouse did not mention
Blackmun`s role in getting the "machinery of
death" up and running in
all 50 states against
unborn children, 50 million of whom have wound up in
garbage bags or dumpsters outside
abortion mills because of her hero`s
There is another and larger issue here.
It is the question not of what is decided, but of who
Whether Citizen Stevens abhors the death penalty should
not matter to Justice Stevens. For if the constitution
provides for a
death penalty, and capital punishment has been
imposed throughout our history, and the form it takes
does not violate
the ban on cruel and unusual punishment, Stevens`
decision should be automatic, no matter his personal
What Stevens is signaling, however, is that his altered
opinion of the death penalty may cause him to start
voting against it—that is, to substitute his personal
view of capital punishment for the decision of the
elected leaders who have voted to retain it.
But Justice Steven is not, or should not be, the
decider. In a democratic republic, that is the
prerogative of the majority, through its elected
It is just such
usurpations of power by Supreme Court justices that
the culture war that has torn us apart. Repeatedly,
justices have imposed their own views and values—on
school prayer, busing,
homosexuality, the death penalty—on the nation,
usurping the authority of legislators.
If Stevens has come to believe capital punishment is
abhorrent and ought to be abolished, he ought to resign
his seat and campaign for its abolition.
But if he exploits his position as a justice to impose
his views on a dissenting democracy, Stevens should be
And he would be, if we had a Congress that cared about
its own and the states` right to make such decisions
under the Constitution.
CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.
Patrick J. Buchanan
no introduction to VDARE.COM readers;
his book State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America, can be ordered from Amazon.com. His latest book
Hitler, and "The Unnecessary War": How Britain Lost Its
Empire and the West Lost the World,
Paul Craig Roberts.