Death penalty aff

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Death Penalty Affirmative
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1ac – Plan

Plan: The Supreme Court of the United States should rule that the death penalty is unconstitutional.

1ac – Solvency

The Last Contention is: Solvency

Only a complete abolishment of the death penalty can remedy the state’s racist murder of innocents

Bessler ‘16 (John, Associate Professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law , “The Inequality of America's Death Penalty: A Crossroads for Capital Punishment at the Intersection of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments,” 73 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. Online 487,
But in this second decade of the twenty-first century, the U.S. Supreme Court now finds itself at a crossroads as regards the punishment of death. It can let it continue, or it can say no more--no more will the United States of America engage in state-sanctioned killing. "The most profound consequence of the Court's failure to address the issue of race in its capital jurisprudence," the Steikers aptly note, "is that the unjust influence of race in the capital punishment process continues unchecked." 292 As they explain in their book: More broadly, the Court's failure to address forthrightly the death penalty's racialized history and current practice has disserved the Court in its role as chronicler of history and social and political practices. Had the Court framed its constitutional regulation of capital punishment against the backdrop of antebellum codes, lynchings, mob-dominated trials, and disparate enforcement patterns, the Court would have done a much better job of explaining why the American death penalty deserved the sustained attention of the American judiciary. This would have been true even if the Court ultimately had framed its doctrines in nonracial terms. 293 VI. Conclusion The death penalty's racial and gender bias is clear. 294 Congressman John Conyers once took note of the "gender [*566] discrimination" associated with capital sentencing, 295 and Professor Elizabeth Rapaport--a law professor at the University of New Mexico School of Law--has written of the "chivalrous disinclination to sentence women to die." While articulating her "chivalry" theory, she simultaneously posits an "evil woman" hypothesis to explain "the gender stereotyping that has historically dehumanized despised female murderers" and resulted in their execution when they violate "sex role expectations" (e.g., by killing their children or husbands). 296 The Washington, D.C.-based Death Penalty Information Center, documenting the racial prejudice in the death penalty's administration, also cites study after study showing that killers of whites are much more likely to be sentenced to death than killers of blacks. In the modern era, the statistics for those [*567] executed for interracial homicides are particularly telling. While 20 people have been executed for interracial homicides involving a white defendant and a black victim, an exponentially higher number of people--282--have been executed where the defendant was black and the victim was white. 297 Such discrimination calls for a remedy, and in the case of the death penalty, the only remedy that will suffice is the death penalty's abolition. In "Matters of Strata," Professor Goldfarb emphasizes that "when race, gender, and class play an explanatory role in decisions about who receives a death sentence, under the Supreme Court's death penalty jurisprudence those decisions constitute cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment." 298 And her perceptive essay, in tracing Joseph Giarratano's case and the ideologies and long history of discrimination undergirding the death penalty that "undermine" its legitimacy, 299 makes clear that, as a society, we need "to find other approaches." 300 Just as the U.S. Supreme Court, in Shelley v. Kraemer, 301 held in the 1940s that judicial enforcement of restrictive covenants attempting to bar minorities from ownership or occupancy of real property violated due process and equal protection principles, a wholly arbitrary and discriminatory death penalty regime--one still in place in the twenty-first century--should not be tolerated. 302 A government [*568] should not involve itself with such a cruel and torturous punishment--one that, throughout American history, has been imbibed with racial discrimination, gender inequities, malice and hatred, and lottery-like arbitrariness. 303 In their 2015 dissent in Glossip v. Gross, 304 Justice Stephen Breyer--joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg--called for a "full briefing" on whether capital punishment violates the Eighth Amendment and concluded that it is "highly likely" that it does. 305 In a subsequent speech in Chicago, Illinois, Justice Ginsburg--in talking about their dissenting opinion in Glossip--specifically highlighted the death penalty's arbitrariness, telling her audience: "Factors that should not affect imposition of the death penalty, studies documented, often do, prime among those factors, race and geography." 306 "Ultimately," she said, "the considerations Justice Breyer discussed at length may bring us back to the years 1972-76, when no executions took place in the United States." 307 Already, the American death penalty is actively [*569] used in only a small fraction of U.S. counties. 308 As Emily Bazelon wrote for the New York Times Magazine in 2016: "A new geography of capital punishment is taking shape, with just 2 percent of the nation's counties now accounting for a majority of the people sitting on death row." 309 In State v. Santiago, 310 the Connecticut Supreme Court declared that state's death penalty unconstitutional. In doing so, it held that "the eighth amendment is offended not only by the random or arbitrary imposition of the death penalty, but also by the greater evils of racial discrimination and other forms of pernicious bias in the selection of who will be executed." 311 As that court emphasized: "Unfortunately, numerous studies have found that '[e]rrors can and have been made repeatedly in the trial of death penalty cases because of poor representation, racial prejudice, prosecutorial misconduct, or simply the presentation of erroneous evidence.'" 312 "A study of all death sentences in the United States in the two decades following Furman," it pointed out, "found 'extremely high error rates' . . . ; with at least two thirds of capital sentences eventually overturned on appeal." 313 "Statistical analyses studies," it added, "have demonstrated to a near certainty that innocent Americans have been and will continue to be executed in the post-Furman era." 314 As the court concluded after compiling all of the evidence: "To the extent that the ultimate punishment is imposed on an offender on the basis [*570] of impermissible considerations such as his, or his victim's, race, ethnicity, or socio-economic status, rather than the severity of his crime, his execution does not restore but, rather, tarnishes the moral order." 315 Hopefully, the U.S. Supreme Court will soon follow suit, looking to the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court of Connecticut and other judicial systems around the world that have already outlawed the punishment of death. Way back in 1995, South Africa's Constitutional Court--in the wake of apartheid's demise--declared the death penalty to be unconstitutional as a "cruel, inhuman or degrading" punishment. 316 Ironically, the President of the Court, Arthur Chaskalson, in writing for South [*571] Africa's highest court, looked to the reasoning of an American case--Furman v. Georgia--to support the propositions that "[a]t every stage of the process there is an element of chance" and that "poverty, race and chance play roles in the outcome of capital cases and in the final decision as to who should live and who should die." 317 If the present-day U.S. Supreme Court would only return to its own roots--Furman's denunciation of the death penalty as a violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments 318 --the American legal system could finally uproot a barbaric, discriminatory practice rooted in the Dark Ages and the institution of slavery.

Supreme Court action is key – Ruling the death penalty unconstitutional creates a precedent that spills over and injects dignity to the entire justice system.

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