Friday, April 29, 2005

Death Penalty in Massachusetts

Mitt Romney, the Republican governor of Mass, is trying to restore the death penalty in the state where I have served for many, many years. He touts his bill as "fool-proof." While I do concede that he makes some gestures to a more secure level of guilt, his whole effort is based on a very serious misconception of human nature. People lie, enforcement officers do falsify evidence, witnesses lie or just get it wrong, judges and juries are susceptible to manipulation by lawyers on all sides. Not always, of course, but often enough (as we painfully know). Even under Romney's protocols, eventually someone innocent would be executed unjustly.
A prediction: this morning's NYT story on this points out that Romney faces big opposition in the Democratic legislature, ascribing that opposition to the Catholicism of many of the legislators. The usual church-state hysteria will not call this an imposition of someone's moral values on the body politic. They only do that on issues like abortion. Just so we know: the real test here is not at all a constitutional one. It is a policy test. OK to express Catholic views when they agree with the secularist ideologues, but it is unconstitutional when Catholic views go against secularist ideology.