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PostRE: The Death Penalty (Cameron Sawyer) (John Eipper, USA, 11/26/05 8:12 am)
Robert Whealey said: Randy Black wrote"(Bush) does not enforce the death penalty." This must be a slip of wording. The all powerful President appoints the Attorney General. The all powerful Bush can pardon criminals convicted by a jury. Let us look at Presidents 1-43 to see how they did enforce the death penalty. Fifty Governors also have great powers over who dies. Cameron Sawyer comments: Robert Whealey, I'm afraid, is wrong again, carried away again by his own ideas.
In fact, the president can only pardon federal offenders, offenders convicted in the District of Columbia courts, and offenders convicted in courts-marshal of the U.S. military. While there is a federal death penalty, and while the reach of federal courts has been unconstitutionally expanded over the last decades to apply to a number of offenses which properly belong in state courts, nevertheless the federal death penalty applies to a limited number of rather narrowly defined crimes, and is rarely applied. Twenty-four death sentences were handed down from 1988 to 2000, and no one was actually executed during that period. In fact, in the 42 years since 1963, only three criminals have been executed under federal law, one of them Timothy McVeigh in 2001.
Ordinary murder is punished under state, not federal law, so the vast majority of death penalty cases are heard in state courts. The president has no power to pardon such criminals, and has no significant influence over state criminal law. Randy Black is absolutely right. The president has practically nothing to do with the enforcement of the death penalty.