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Monday, April 11, 2005

Is there a new politics of sentencing emerging?

Over at SLP, Doug does a great job of compiling some links suggesting that we are finally at the doorstep of a new politics of sentencing law.  It's hard to say what instigated it, and if the moment has really crystallized.  Some of it may have to do with the fact that two of the bolder statements about criminal justice in recent years have come from two Republicans: former Illinois Governor George Ryan (whose blanket commutation is defended here,) and Justice Anthony M. Kennedy (whose statements in defense of the greater use mercy were criticized here, as violating liberal norms). Moreover, according to some of Doug's posts, the religious right wing of the Republican party is increasingly curious about the role of repentence and redemption in the lives of offenders.    

There is no unanimity on the Right of course.  Indeed, just the other day, Kennedy was vilified by various conservatives for his citations to international law and his apparent moral slippage in the Roper case, which banned executions of minors. The rhetoric deployed by Kennedy's critics, according to this article "And the verdict on Justice Kennedy: Guilty," was as subtle as the chants of a lynch mob.  Watch your back, AMK.  And your front.

Posted by Dan Markel on April 11, 2005 at 02:34 PM in Criminal Law | Permalink

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