SCOTUS under Trump


I don’t know. I think it narrowly turns on whether Ray really could have prepared his request sooner, or if the procedures really were only revealed at the last moment.

In favor of the state, I am familiar with big government bureaucracies and believe that they are generally pretty hidebound and predictable, for anyone who bothers to examine how they work. They really aren’t good at surprises. In addition, Ray made another last-minute request alongside this one (a change of execution method) that looks suspiciously like a stall for time.

On the other hand, I am prejudiced against Alabama and in favor of Kagan. So I’m left with vague doubts about the decision. But of course there is no reason for a court to share my prejudices.

Regardless, I am always against the death penalty. Even in this case. But if execution is inevitable as in this case, I don’t see good arguments for delaying it. You’re just postponing the disappointment.


Somewhat, if not precisely, apropos, this article is worth a read, though it’s rather tough going.


I don’t think even the lower court disputed when Ray found out about the problem. They just decided that he had plenty of time to find it out himself before he actually did, so it’s on him.


So here’s my analogy. Suppose you lived on a military base with very limited visitor access. And suppose there the only chaplain is a Christian. It’s one thing to recognize this as a problem and make a formal request to get a rabbi on base. It’s another thing to rush a random rabbi through the guardpost on the morning of your son’s bris. I mean, you had plenty of time to anticipate this problem.


Definitely tough to read. I can’t imagine the heartbreak if I had to face this situation. It’s pathetic and just so, so wrong that the right wing has twisted complicated issues like this into a “OMG BABY KILLER” rally cry.


This was hard to read but I think this line really pinpoints a good part of the issue.

I believe there are fates worse than death.

I think a number of anti-choice advocates don’t believe this.


Well, a committed Christian would likely believe that heaven is better than life on earth. But I also think they believe abortion violates the sixth commandment.


I don’t what you mean by “committed” Christian, but if all the anti-choice group isn’t going to care what she says because I don’t think they believe there are fates worse than death. If they did, their logic would implode.


I meant a sincere one who actually believes in the doctrines of their faith.* Such a person presumably thinks heaven is more pleasant than an earthly existence. That doesn’t mean, I hasten to add, that they think it’s okay to kill someone to put them in heaven, because that would violate a separate part of Christian doctrine, i.e., the sixth commandment.

Quite separately, for all I know some might believe that an aborted, therefore unbaptized, fetus might actually be condemned to hell. If one’s theology tends that way, it would make the fight against abortion all the more urgent. I’m not sure if anyone actually holds that belief, though.

** I’m speculating here, as I am not a Christian myself. But I have seen the sentiment reflected in literature, such as:

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.


Although Catholics don’t know for sure, some think that it’s a distinct possibility. And this indeed further motivates their opposition to abortion.


That also means there would be a shitload of miscarried babies burning in hell too.


It’s all part of God’s plan.


Yes, possibly. But there is no burning in the modern Catholic hell. Just separation and loneliness. Sort of like the various AI hells in Black Mirror.


If you are a Christian, at least from the major versions of Christianity, then of cours you believe heaven is perfection, but even the stories showcase key persons, say Samson, asked for god to give him the strength he needed to end his enemies, and he also ended himself. I don’t recall the part where he said now that I am blind and weak and a slave I should just live out my life in misery.

Anti-choice is that, exactly a choice, and all I am saying is I am not sure the anti-choice group actually believes that an living in existence could be so miserable and so wretched that it is best avoided.

You don’t have to be committed to be a Christian. You just have to have faith and belief. I am sure the Evangelicals would call themselves committed but they are not more Christian than other Christians simply because they say so and their leaders are on TV.


Right, but add to that analogy that 1) the officials told you the rabbi could ‘visit’ you without mentioning that they actually meant ‘from the other side of a bulletproof glass partition that makes it impossible for him to perform the bris’, and 2) you found out about that two weeks before, not the same day, and 3) you made the request 10 days before, not the day of, and 4) a duly constituted panel decided that you might be in the right and wanted to consider it, and 5) 5 other people decided to overrule them when it wasn’t necessary for them to do that.

I mean, those do seem to be the actual facts in the case, right?


Well, that’s the question isn’t it. Was it reasonable for a prisoner to assume that his visitor would be allowed in the chamber? The district court heard the most testimony and thought it wasn’t reasonable. The Eleventh disagreed, and the SCOTUS sided with the district court.

Who’s right? I really don’t know enough about prison life to be certain, but it’s not obviously reasonable to me. I have worked in other government settings enough to know that getting a third party access to a secure area is often going to take a lot of effort and planning, and bureaucrats are notoriously inflexible.

You’re putting the burden on the state, but that’s not where it lay. The burden was on Ray to demonstrate that his argument very likely to prevail, not just “might be right” or “worth considering.” The default was to proceed with execution, and the SCOTUS decided that overruling the initial decision was not necessary.


Was that the question? I’m losing track here of what was the question. It sounds like everyone agrees that if the prisoner found out about the issue on the 23rd of January and raised the issue in the 28th of January, then that’s not an unreasonable delay and wouldn’t constitute an unreasonable last minute objection, and you have to actually assume negligence prior to that date on the prisoner’s part to get to a conclusion that it was an unreasonable last minute objection. That’s…special.

Edit: Even the conservative National Review dissents.


Because it doesn’t matter when Ray found out. What matters is what a reasonable person would have done.

If I find out on May 10 that I was supposed to file my tax return by April 15, I am SOL.

And yes, the initial court decided that someone who waits years before making the necessary inquiries must not be genuinely interested in the process.

Ray argued that the state didn’t even have a firm policy until after he raised the issue. The state disagrees.

Who is right? I don’t know, but it’s not obviously Ray.


…and that only people who demonstrate what you think is ‘genuine interest in the process’ have rights. That’s a shit ruling.


That’s my paraphrase, not the court’s language:

Let me also point out that the notion that one should be able to ignore filing deadlines if they have a really strong case is… special.