Linda Greenhouse offers, here, an interesting editorial on SCOTUS’s per curiam opinion in Porter v. McCollum that Zee profiled earlier this week, here.

5 Responses to “Porter v. McCollum Editorial”

  1. John O'Connor says:

    Your increased blogging has me concerned. Don’t you have any work to do?

  2. Reply says:

    Linda is a nice person, but this is some silly peanut gallery stuff. Give us a short summary of some other case and then say the court is wrongly selective because it didn’t grant relief there. Not exactly publishable commentary, which is why it’s on her blog and not anywhere else.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Well there is still an interesting issue in that second case, if the ABA Guidelines, and I understand it was only a concurrence and not the holding, are not “specially relevant” then what does Justice Alito believe we should look to in order to determine the standards in place at the time vis-a-vis “professional range?”

  4. Dwight Sullivan says:


    I found the piece quite provocative. Ms. Greenhouse is certainly right that a horrific childhood is common among the 3,300 people on U.S. death rows today — Dwight Loving among them. While Furman v. Georgia is widely understood as having prohibited standardless discretion in the use of capital punishment, imposition of the death penalty remains tremendously arbitrary. Porter’s death sentence was set aside. Some other death row inmates whose level of representation was comparable or worse have their death sentences affirmed. Opinions will differ wildly on the implications of inconsistencies in the application of capital punishment in the United States. But Ms. Greenhouse’s piece issued a useful (and well executed; gosh I wish I could write as elegantly as she does) invitation to think about those inconsistencies.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I know this isn’t meant to be a death penalty debate, but what is it less than 5% of murders even get tried capital, the 3 or 4 to 1 disparity in who gets tried capital depending on the race of the victim, the obvious income gap in getting competent attorneys vs. incompetent (but still legally “good enough” attorneys), the difficulty of getting experts if you don’t have money…we could go on and on.

    Even if I were for the death penalty, I’m not sure how anyone could argue with a straight face that the regime currently in place isn’t fairly arbitrary at least in the civilian world.

    Meanwhile, the military system probably is much less arbitrary in some albeit not all respects, but we have the problem of doing it so infrequently that we have no death penalty qualified counsel to do it, and we dont have judges (appellate or trial) who have much if any experience with it either.