"The troubling lessons of California's death penalty ruling," is Andrew Cohen's post at the Week. Here's the beginning of this must-read:
U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney isn't the first federal judge in recent memory to declare the death penalty unconstitutional. And he surely won't be the last.
Still, Carney's ruling Wednesday vacating the death sentence of a California man named Ernest Dwayne Jones is as candid a judicial lament on the sorry state of capital punishment (in the state and in the nation) as you are ever likely to read.
If California can't or won't do the death penalty right, Judge Carney declared, it should not be allowed to do it at all. But his working theory isn't that the state's capital system is prone to error, or rife with racial disparity, or arbitrary in its application, even though it is plaintively all of those things. Instead, this appointee of George W. Bush concluded that the "machinery of death" grinds too slowly in California for it to sustain itself under the Eighth Amendment. Delay, he contends, is the decisive constitutional flaw in the grim mechanism.
Earlier coverage of the ruling begins at the link.