Friday, December 23, 2011

States' Rights When They Like the Right...

It might go to the Supreme Court. Gov. Lincoln Chaffee of Rhode Island is refusing to turn a prisoner, Jason Pleau, over to federal custody. Mr. Pleau is in a Rhode Island prison on a variety of probation and parole violations and is not due for release until 2028. The federal government wants him for killing a gas station manager during a robbery in September 2010. But Governor Chafee won’t hand him over, because Rhode Island does not have the death penalty and the federal government does. There are plenty of countries around the world who do the same thing. And, in fact, the death penalty is in logistical trouble in the US because countries and companies are refusing to sell us the drugs we use to kill people (many of whom are under- or poorly represented, if at all, and/or in fact innocent, but that's a different complaint).

And as Andrew Rosenthal notes:
Unfortunately, Lincoln Caplan, [the NYT] writer on legal affairs and the courts, thinks Governor Chafee may be on shaky ground, since this case has to do with whether federal law takes precedence over state law. And naturally Governor Chafee’s former Republican colleagues won’t come rushing to his defense—even though they say all the time that the federal government has no right to tell states what to do on health care reform and gun control and pretty much everything, except possibly the death penalty. Oh, and gay marriage.

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