Sharon Keller’s callous dismissal of Michael Richard’s last-minute appeal is another example of Texas’ commitment to executions rather than a commitment to real justice [“Naked City
,” News, Oct. 26]. But because of her actions, and the Supreme Court’s decision to hear arguments about the constitutionality of lethal injection, the anti-death penalty movement has a historic opportunity at hand. The United States now has a de facto moratorium on capital punishment. The time is ripe to organize a case about the “unusual” aspects of the death penalty – the rampant racism, pervasive classism, and prosecutorial cronyism – not just the “cruel” nature of the drug cocktail used.
We cannot rely on the Supreme Court to end capital punishment, because a short four years after abolition, the court reinstated it, assuming the problems were fixed. However, stories of men like the aforementioned Michael Richard; Cameron Todd Willingham, an innocent man executed in 2004; and Rodney Reed, another innocent man still on death row, continue to haunt Texas’ criminal justice system.
I urge everyone to sign Texas Moratorium Network’s petition against Judge Keller, accessible at www.democracyinaction.org/dia/organizationsORG/tmn/petition.jsp?petition_KEY=748&t=sharonkiller.dwt
. But petition-signing is not the end of the struggle: A political movement will end the death penalty, and such a movement must use the space given by this moratorium to swell its numbers and deepen politically.
The death penalty is on the ropes – it’s time we organize and start swinging.