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2004/03/13

elf05.jpg (JPEG Image, 480x640 pixels), the thumb at elf via growabrain architecture, La Defense. Jump.
posted by TT 6:57 PM

sorry.jpg (JPEG Image, 750x841 pixels) via things
posted by TT 6:44 PM

2004/03/11

Undocumented surfing is a guilty pleasure. Go hither and yon, leave tracks, only to have them covered up by more tracks. Who cares. Remember most some guy in Oregon who lives underground and draws. Let's see if the Toph can find him. Here he is, Dan Price (video) as written up on Morning News. He says drawing never fails like photography occasionally does.
posted by TT 9:00 AM

2004/03/08

Democracy Now! | EXCLUSIVE:ARISTIDE SPEAKS TO DEMOCRACY NOW! IN MOST EXTENSIVE ENGLISH-LANGUAGE INTERVIEW SINCE HIS REMOVAL FROM HAITI: "First of all, I didn't leave Haiti because I wanted to leave Haiti. They forced me to leave Haiti. It was a kidnapping, which they call coup d'etat or [inaudible] ...forced resignation for me. It wasn't a resignation. It was a kidnapping and under the cover of coup d'etat."
posted by TT 9:44 AM

2004/03/07

We heard the Parable of the barren fig tree and we sang United Methodist Hymnal 2137, "Would I Have Answered When You Called," "...I cannot search my heart through all its tangled ways." Not a ready-made, where we might have heard about how the fig tree never succeeded in inviting repentance as above, we heard instead about how Justice Blackmun came to disavow the death penalty in his papers released this week: "'From this day forward, I no longer shall tinker with the machinery of death,' Blackmun's dissent declared." From the "dung" of facing the death penalty for over a quarter of a century, a realization came to him that was right. See Howard Brodie picture and draft of Callins v. Collins (View Highlights).
Confronting Capital Punishment

A number of death penalty cases were working their way toward the court, and as his second term was barely under way, Justice Blackmun had to confront a question that troubled him throughout his judicial career: how to reconcile his personal opposition to capital punishment with his vision of the role of a judge. It was to be the great challenge of his decades on the court, and he struggled over it more than he did over abortion.

His papers from his tenure on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit tell of the first time he dealt with the issue. The case was Pope v. United States, a murder case that had fascinated the Midwest. Duane Pope was not a hardened criminal but a college football star, raised on a Kansas farm, who days after his graduation robbed a bank and killed three people. All seven appeals court judges voted in 1967 to uphold his conviction and death sentence. The opinion fell to Judge Blackmun.

To his draft, he added a concluding paragraph expressing doubt about the suitability of the sentence and about capital punishment in general. Perhaps executive clemency would be appropriate, he said.

The paragraph caused a stir inside the court. Two judges called it "gratuitous." Judge Blackmun removed it, but he was deeply wounded. "I strongly feel that the characterization by two of you that that paragraph is `gratuitous' is unfair," he wrote. "The paragraph was written out of a feeling of sincerity and conviction on my part."

The others then took offense, with one suggesting that Justice Blackmun had accused him of unfairness. The conflict passed after another judge intervened. But Justice Blackmun was left with regret.

Seven months later, he recounted the episode in a letter to his friend, Warren Burger. "I continue to kick myself for withdrawing my comment about capital punishment," he said. "In retrospect, I suppose it was expediency, namely to avoid a hoedown on the court. Yet, I was right about it and one never should compromise when one is right."

Now, on the Supreme Court, he faced the issue again. "I am, of course, on record as opposing the death penalty as a policy matter," he wrote in a 1972 memo to himself as the court was preparing to rule that all existing death penalty laws were unconstitutional. "I meant to say it in the Pope opinion for the Eighth Circuit, but this was withdrawn by the urging of a majority of the court." He still believed, as he wrote in his dissenting opinion, that the question was one for legislators rather than judges.

Four years later, Justice Blackmun went along when the court reauthorized the death penalty. By the mid-1980's, though, more and more appeals for last-minute stays of execution were reaching the court. How to handle these requests became an urgent matter in the summer of 1985 as Florida was preparing to execute Willie Darden, convicted of robbing and murdering a furniture store owner.

Justice Blackmun joined three others in providing the necessary four votes to hear Mr. Darden's appeal. But a fifth vote, necessary to grant the stay, was lacking. For a sickening few hours, plans moved along to execute someone whose appeal the court deemed worthy of attention. With hours to spare, a reluctant Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr. offered the fifth vote for a stay.

Justice Blackmun's file documents the bitter clash that resulted. The next day, Justice Powell called for a change in the court's rules to avoid what he called manipulation in capital cases. It should take five justices, not the usual "rule of four," to hear such an appeal, he said.

Justice William J. Brennan Jr. countered that it should take only four, not the usual five, to grant a stay of execution. As tempers and rhetoric became more heated, Justice Rehnquist intervened. Perhaps the Darden case would prove unusual, he said, adding that "I would prefer to wait and see what happens" in future cases.

The court did not change its rules, but the Darden case troubled Justice Blackmun. He became a regular dissenter as the court upheld death sentences and supported restrictions on access by state death-row inmates to federal court review.

Thanks From Death Row

In the summer of 1993, a law clerk suggested that the time had come to declare publicly an "abolitionist position." In a memo that traced Justice Blackmun's evolution on the issue, the clerk, Andrew Schapiro, wrote: "Efforts to fine-tune the machinery of death cannot succeed."

With Justice Blackmun's authorization, his clerks took on the project, not yet aware that it would be his last term. They were looking for a suitable case, a death-sentence appeal that a majority would predictably vote to deny. Justice Blackmun would file the statement as a dissenting opinion.

After a search of several months, the case the clerks selected was an appeal from a Texas inmate, Bruce E. Callins, sentenced to death for killing a man in a bar. Its very ordinariness commended it.

Adopting his law clerks' language, Justice Blackmun delivered his denunciation of the death penalty: Efforts to administer the death penalty fairly and consistently were "doomed to failure," as the court would realize some day, he said, adding: "I may not live to see that day, but I have faith that eventually it will arrive."

After the opinion was released on Feb. 21, 1994, a frail Justice Brennan, the passionate death penalty opponent who had retired four years earlier, called to thank Justice Blackmun for "the present."

A letter arrived several months later, painstakingly printed on lined yellow paper. "Dear Sir: I felt such a overpowering need to write you & thank you for reaching the decision you did on my case," Mr. Callins began. "I cannot imagine what you must have went through in reaching such a major decision." He said he hoped that Justice Blackmun was "at peace within yourself for doing as you did."

Mr. Callins was executed by lethal injection three years later. His sister, Nadeline Robinson, wrote to inform Justice Blackmun. "He had mentioned your name to me with great respect for you as an individual," she said.
--LINDA GREENHOUSE, "Documents Reveal the Evolution of a Supreme Court Justice," New York Times
posted by TT 12:39 PM

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