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NC—Solvency—Death Penalty

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2NC—Solvency—Death Penalty

State abolition is key to national consensus building – forces the Supreme Court to model

Parker, J.D. candidate at Stanford Law, 2013
[Nicholas M. Parker, 2013, "The Road to Abolition: How Widespread Legislative Repeal of the Death Penalty in the States Could Catalyze a Nationwide Ban on Capital Punishment," Legislation and Policy Brief: Vol. 5: Iss. 1, Article 3. Available at:, pp. 78-79, MAM]
The previous Part begs an obvious question: given the Supreme Court’s narrowing death penalty jurisprudence and the precedent set by Atkins and Roper, how many state legislatures must repeal their death penalty statutes before the Supreme Court determines that a “national consensus” has developed against capital punishment altogether? Currently, seventeen states and the District of Columbia bar capital punishment for all crimes.109 How many more must abrogate it before the Supreme Court is left with no choice but to determine that the death penalty violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment in light of our “evolving standards of decency” and holds its use unconstitutional once and for all? Logic would suggest that once a majority of states have abolished their death penalties, a “national consensus” has developed against capital punishment. But, as the Supreme Court noted in Atkins and as Part I further illustrated, “[i]t is not so much the number of these States that is significant” when making the “national consensus” inquiry.110 Rather, there are other factors that will inform the Supreme Court’s reasoning—among them “the consistency of the direction of change”111—and while the recent spate of legislative repeal in the states is a step toward nationwide abolition, anti-death penalty advocates believe it is only a start.112 The rest of this Article probes the questions posed above. This Part examines the legislative repeal process in New Jersey, New Mexico, Illinois, and Connecticut to illustrate how state legislatures are grappling with repeal and how lawmakers, courts, and the general public have reacted to abolition. Part III then looks ahead to evaluate which other states might soon legislatively abrogate their death penalties and to speculate about how many must do so before the Supreme Court may be required to conclude that a “national consensus” has developed against its imposition.

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