Connecticut Supreme Court Declares Death Penalty Is Unconstitutional

Today the Connecticut Supreme Court joined the growing national conversation about the abolishment of the death penalty. Tracking and often embracing points raised by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer in his recent powerful dissent in Glossip v. Gross, the court reached its own conclusion for the state of Connecticut: Executions will no longer be permitted because they violate the state’s protection against cruel and unusual punishment.  

The Connecticut Supreme Court agreed with Breyer in noting that the national trend towards abolition is gaining steam as the death penalty is now seen as wholly ineffectual and broken: Executions come far too infrequently and too long after the crime to serve the goals of retribution or deterrence; abhorrent considerations, such as race, taint the selection of who lives and who dies; and the demonstrated risk of executing an innocent person makes the entire experiment untenable.

As background, in 2012, the Connecticut Legislature repealed the death penalty, but only for capital crimes committed after the effective date of the legislation. The law left 11 men in legal limbo as they were sentenced to death for crimes committed before the repeal. Today, however, these men were saved from the death penalty. They now must instead serve life imprisonment without release.

Following Justice Breyer’s model in the Glossip dissent, the Connecticut court’s decision is a well-researched tour de force, engaging deeply in the issue as part of the conversation. The court considered the fact that seven states in the last nine years have abolished the death penalty, found that nationally executions and new death sentences are at all-time lows, and took into account the American Law Institute’s recent pronouncement that it no longer supports the use of the death penalty. The new ALI position is important because its prior model death-penalty statue, now disavowed, was a basis for the Supreme Court having approved the death penalty in a 1976 decision known as Gregg v. Georgia.

The Connecticut court took all of this and more into consideration, including a brief filed by our office and Legal Historians, and then emphasized that Connecticut leads — and not follows — on issues of justice. Thus, even before the U.S. Supreme Court struck the death penalty for minors under 18 years old and people with intellectual disability, Connecticut had done so under its own law. It’s a conversation — the state courts take direction from the U.S. Supreme Court as to federal law, but when interpreting their own laws on issues of justice and equality, the state courts can and do take the lead.

Connecticut did so today, in compelling fashion.

The conversation continues. The same reasons will be discussed, but with decreasing debate, for the conclusions are increasingly clear.  I just hope the trend continues its acceleration, as these are literally questions of life and death. 

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Anonymous

Please see paragraph 3. It states that "These men were saved from the death penalty". Really? We're their victims spared from the death penalty?
This shows the warped thinking of liberals as well as left wing activist judges.
Of course these same people have no qualms about giving the death penalty to innocent babies in the womb.

Adam Thomas

You misspelled "we're."

Adam Thomas

No I've misspelled "were!" Stupid iPad autocorrect! Truly e death penalty has now made victims of us all.

Adam Thomas

Now it misspelled "the!"

Anonymous

The legal right to kill people obviously was never a concern. That was always OK :D

Anonymous

More prisoners means more money for the prison industrial complex. We shouldn't end the death penalty, but we should go about it much more pragmatically.

RRR

New tag line for the ACLU:
"Making America Safer for Murderers and Terrorists!"
I think it says it all!

Ryan

Hell yeah I agree! I won't forget when ACLU turds represented a pedophiles right to drive by a school on his way to work rather then go around. F-that guy and F-the asshole communist lawyers Union

Ashley

I support the death penalty, I was horrified to find out that those scub bags that did the home invasion in Cheshire were getting off easy after the horrific crimes they had done. Those poor little girls going through all that torture , just to die in a burning home. Makes me sick .those p.o.s should fry for those crimes but instead they get to live in prison,taking the taxpayers money, having a bed, hot meals three times a day and get to live period . I totally support the death penalty . They should endure the same kind of pain they had inflicted upon that poor family that did not do anything to anyone.

Anonymous

Those who murder 1 face the death penalty and those who murder millions get accolades and monuments. Unless, of course, you murder millions and end up losing like Goering and Goebbels or most certainly Hitler would have faced had he not committed suicide or run off to Argentina in the missing U-boat.

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