The Supreme Court Reinstated The Death Sentence Of Boston Marathon Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Good.

Good, and also legal, ethical, just, fair and necessary.

Justice Thomas wrote the majority opinion in United States v. Tsarnaev. It is, like most Thomas opinions, long, careful, thorough, and persuasive. The dissent by Justice Breyer, in contrast, is uncharacteristically weak, and the other two “liberal” justices did themselves no favors by joining it. Essentially, it is an example of exactly the judicial legislating that conservatives rightly complain about. Breyer grasps at a dubious legal straw to do indirectly what he cannot do directly: ban capital punishment, which is both legal and constitutional. His whole argument in his own nutshell:

During the sentencing phase of his murder trial, Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev argued that he should not receive the death penalty primarily on the ground that his older brother Tamerlan took the leading role and induced Dzhokhar’s participation in the bombings. Dzhokhar argued that Tamerlan was a highly violent man, that Tamerlan radicalized him, and that Dzhokhar participated in the bombings because of Tamerlan’s violent influ-ence and leadership. In support of this argument, Dzho-khar sought to introduce evidence that Tamerlan previously committed three brutal, ideologically inspired murders in Waltham, Massachusetts. The District Court prohibited Dzhokhar from introducing this evidence. The Court of Appeals held that the District Court abused its discretion by doing so….
This Court now reverses the Court of Appeals. In my view, the Court of Appeals acted lawfully in holding that the District Court should have allowed Dzhokhar to introduce this evidence.

Weak. Dzhokhar admitted his role in the horrific terrorist bombings on April 15, 2013, which killed 3 people and injured hundreds, including 17 who lost limbs. His guilt was never in question. He was not a child, but an adult; nobody forced him to end or ruin so many lives. His defense, which was a last resort, amounted to a rationalization: he wasn’t as bad as his brother. He was bad enough, however. The evidence of three alleged murders that were never charged or proven was a tangential distraction, and as Thomas makes clear, the trial court was correct to reject it.  Justice Breyer is using an intellectually dishonest argument because he doesn’t like executions, but can’t change the law. It is unethical judicial conduct to contrive a dissent like his, and unethical for his colleagues Kagan and Sotomayor to assist him.

Thomas concludes the majority opinion with appropriate bluntness:

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev committed heinous crimes. The Sixth Amendment nonetheless guaranteed him a fair trial before an impartial jury. He received one. The judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit is reversed.

I am struck once again, reading the reader comments on the Washington Post article, how smug, threadbare, ill-considered and repetitious the anti-death penalty arguments are. It is telling that the worst of all is the one the Post features as the “most popular,” the supposed hypocrisy of “pro-life” advocates favoring capital punishment. This is an argument that qualifies as missing a material distinction: there is no hypocrisy in objecting to the killing of innocent, nascent human life and favoring executions of society’s worst murderers. It is and has always been a lazy argument that sounds clever and is favored by those who do not or cannot think very hard. And yet here is the Post’s top rated comment: “The Party of Life sure does love killing people…”.

The same commenter wrote this snotty reply to a reader who pointed out that the terrorist really did enjoy killing people: “So killing him makes it all better? That’s nice, dear.”

Just as the first comment marks this reader as an idiot, the second marks him or her as an idiot and an asshole. In fact, having an ultimate penalty reserved for the worst crimes when the perpetrator is guilty not just beyond a reasonable doubt but beyond any doubt does make society and the law better. It provides integrity, and a clear statement that some level of harm perpetrated on one’s own society forfeits all rights to exist in that society. Treason. Mass murder. Serial killing. Terrorism Murdering children. Bin Laden. Hitler. Stalin. Ted Bundy. The BTK Killer. Richard Ramirez.Timothy McVeigh. Dylan Roof.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

Society has limited resources, and not a penny more than is absolutely necessary should be wasted on keeping such monsters alive.



8 thoughts on “The Supreme Court Reinstated The Death Sentence Of Boston Marathon Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Good.

  1. ““The Party of Life sure does love killing people…”.”

    The Party of Life doesn’t enjoy killing people at all. It’s because we value life that we accept the necessity of there being an ultimate punishment for those who take life in either abundance or in particularly heinous ways. If that commenter and those like him or her don’t understand the distinction between a criminal who brutally took life of his own free will and an unborn baby who has done nothing to warrant extermination, I don’t know what else to write. Critical thinking clearly has been bypassed in favor of trite social media slams.

  2. Too bad the moron who wrote the comment you flagged won’t read this. I would enjoy imagining his or her head exploding like a ripe melon struck by a sledgehammer.

  3. I read the Bucklew case, where the SCOTUS decided, quite sensibly, that there is no right to a painless execution. What stuck out to me is the penultimate paragraph in Breyer’s dissent, in which he states that as we move forward there may be no constitutional way to implement the death penalty. That, I submit, is one more reason we needed to either get that sixth conservative justice on the Court or get Breyer out of there. Breyer already came within one step of saying the death penalty should be outlawed in a 2015 dissent in which only Justice Ginsburg joined (surprise surprise) and which got a pretty severe smackdown from Justice Scalia.

    There is something fundamentally wrong with a way of thinking that worries so much about the pain, humiliation, or other bad consequence suffered by a murderer and thinks almost not at all about his victim. It’s that kind of thinking that kept Peter Sutcliffe (the Yorkshire Ripper) sitting in a UK prison on the taxpayers’ dime, Fowzi Nejad (the only terrorist to survive Operation Nimrod) living in London on the public dole (because if they sent him back to Iran he’d be beheaded), and means Michael Adebowale (who participated in what I can only describe as the assassination of Drummer Lee Rigby, for no reason other than he was a soldier) will see the parole board in 45 years. It’s also that kind of thinking that enabled Charles Manson to dodge death until the ripe old age of 83, would have spared “Tookie” Howser who murdered immigrants from Taiwan and called them “Buddhaheads,” and would have kept William Spengler (the West Webster shooter, who wrote that, “I still have to get ready to see how much of the neighborhood I can burn down, and do what I like doing best, killing people,” before setting a fire and ambushing the responding firemen, killing two of them) alive, perhaps to be paroled a second time, since he had already been imprisoned for 18 years after killing his grandmother with a hammer, had he not saved the authorities the trouble by killing himself.

    Frankly, I don’t think this thinking even represents respect for the system, misguided compassion, or the overwhelming fear that someone innocent will suffer the one punishment that can’t be undone nor compensated for. All too often abolition is couched in terms of moral absolutes based on following the group (the U.S. is one of a very few industrialized nations to retain the penalty), irrelevance that sounds relevant (too many blacks get executed) or just plain lazy thinking (all the hip, cool, or educated people are against it).

    Just out of curiosity, how high should the bar be set before someone fries? I can probably name at least 20 circumstances that would be appropriate:

    1. Killing a cop, corrections officer, fireman, or EMT in the discharge of their duties. (obviously)

    2. Killing on contract (murder for hire).

    3. Killing while committing another violent offense (robbery, rape, etc.)

    4. Killing while in furtherance of the goals of a nation whose interests are adverse to ours. (Homicidal traitors are the worst)

    5. Killing someone because of a protected characteristic (race, religion, gender, orientation).

    6. Killing someone because of employment status (no targeting off-duty cops, prosecutors, members of the military, or veterans).

    7. Killing through use of a means designed to cause mass casualty (even if no mass casualty results).

    8. Killing more than one person in one incident.

    9. Killing a witness to a crime. (No killing someone for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time and seeing the wrong thing).

    10. Killing someone for difference of political opinions (no targeting prominent liberals or conservatives simply because they are, no attacking someone and trying to kill him for wearing a MAGA hat).

    11. Thrill killing (If you kill someone just to see him die, you die too).

    12. Killing during the committal of a war atrocity (we must police our own).

    13. Killing by torture (including torturing someone and death resulting, even if you didn’t intend to kill him).

    14. Killing during an act of mutiny (we want to discourage the military and paramilitary turning on their superiors).

    15. Killing an elected official. (some overlap with #10, but different enough to merit a separate designation)

    16. Killing a newborn. (we want to discourage “prom moms” from killing their children and dumping them in the trash, it’s an outrage that Amy Grossberg is walking around free).

    17. Killing a child. (we don’t need any more James Bulgers killed, thank you very much)

    18. Killing during an incident of bullying (we want to discourage bullying or practical joking that could end in death).

    19. Treason.

    20. Espionage.


    I know Luke G and Sparty are strong death penalty opponents. However, I haven’t heard anything from either of them that I haven’t already heard and dismissed. Yes I’ve heard the comparison to abortion, but I just don’t buy it, the two circumstances are nothing alike. I also have heard a few people from where I went undergraduate who were Catholic Worker types talk about the ethic of the seamless garment, after the fact that Christ’s tunic had no seem and therefore could not be divided, leading to the Roman soldiers throwing dice to see who would get it. The idea is that there should never be war, there should never be euthanasia, there should never be abortion, and there should never be capital punishment, always choose life. Well, it sounds nice, but in the end it’s idealism and magical thinking. A lot of these idealists are wonderful people who’d give you their last crust, but that doesn’t mean they’re right.

  4. “Dzhokhar argued that Tamerlan was a highly violent man, that Tamerlan radicalized him, and that Dzhokhar participated in the bombings because of Tamerlan’s violent influ-ence and leadership.”

    Well, isn’t that special.
    The problem with Dzhokhar (andhislegalargument) is that he wasn’t radicalized enough, because if he had been he wouldn’t be acting like such a wuss at the prospect of the death penalty.

  5. “The Party of Life sure does love killing people…”.

    Proof that the pro-choice people don’t really understand the pro-life movement at all. Though I have never been fans of the terms, here is one of the places anti-abortion and pro-abortion are better names for their movements.

    • They don’t understand law, analogies, life, justice, or common sense, either. I almost wrote that anyone on this blog that repeated that cretinism in a column would be banned through the EA Stupidity Rule as too dumb to participate here.

  6. Biden’s comment that he disagrees with the SCOTUS decision because he opposes the death penalty while upholding the murder of innocents in the womb or on the way out of the womb is HYPOCRISY

    • Glad you said that. While it is not hypocrisy for death sentence proponents to oppose abortion as an unjust killing of innocent human beings. it is hypocrisy for abortion advocates to tear up over the executions of the likes of the Marathon bomber. They generally resolve this hypocrisy by denying that a human life is involved in an abortion at all. a legal, ethical, moral and biological fiction.

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