FROM Bert Brandenburg
The Death Penalty Faces Another Trial Oklahoma is investigating last week's execution of Clayton Lockett — so horribly botched one witness said, "It looked like torture." The state used a mixture of lethal drugs never used before in that combination. Lockett was conscious for several minutes before dying of a heart attack. The state Supreme Court tried to delay his execution, but the legislature and the governor threatened impeachment, and the justices let it go ahead. Similar incidents in other states have raised questions about drugs used for lethal injections. Are they "cruel and unusual'' or does the punishment fit the crime? Why is there so much secrecy about the death penalty, as public support is declining?
Judicial Independence, Elections and Provocative Rulings In April of last year, the seven-member Supreme Court of Iowa effectively legalized same-sex marriage in a unanimous opinion. Last week, three of the justices faced a retention election, and all three were thrown out by the voters. What's the message to other judges whose decisions might be unpopular? Has fundraising for judicial campaigns, which has doubled in ten years to $206 million nationwide, eroded voter confidence in judicial independence? Are judges the guardians of minority rights against public opinion or "legislators in robes" who should be accountable to the people?
Should Judges Be Elected? In April of last year, the seven-member Supreme Court of Iowa ruled unanimously that the state law against same-sex marriage was a violation of equal rights. Last week, three of the justices faced a retention election and all three were thrown out by the voters. What's the message to other judges whose decisions might be unpopular? Fundraising for judicial campaigns has doubled in ten years to $206 million nationwide. Has that eroded voter confidence in judicial independence? Are judges the guardians of minority rights against public opinion or "legislators in robes" who should be accountable to the people?
Voters to Consider Curbs on Judicial Authority South Dakota's " Jail 4 Judges " measure, Amendment E, would allow citizens to sue judges who made legal decisions they didn't like. It's the most Draconian evidence of a national movement to control what backers call "a system gone out of control." In addition to South Dakota, Oregon , Colorado and North Dakota all have ballot measures that would limit the independence of judges. Is the judiciary at risk as an institution?
Trump's 'America First' goes missing abroad In the Middle East, President Trump is changing some policies of the Obama Administration—and reversing his own campaign attacks on Islam as a religion that "hates us." We hear about his visit to Saudi Arabia and what's at stake for the rest of his foreign excursion.
Replacing Obamacare: Now you see it… now you don’t As the Senate deliberates replacing Obmacare, health coverage for millions of people is at stake. There've been no public hearings, and a draft measure won't be made public. Is the House version so unpopular that that Senate is hiding a version that looks much the same?
Is the threat from Russia missing from the Russia meddling probe? There's much being made about the Trump administration's possible ties with Russia. But the bottom line is Russia's effort to influence American democracy. Do the President and his aides care enough to take action before voters go back to the polls?
Terrorism and tweets, hate speech and murder Just days before an election, Britain is coping with a rash of deadly terrorism, and Prime Minister Theresa May is on the defensive. And again today, President Trump has tweeted criticism of the Mayor of London. Later, a double murder in Portland, Oregon has revealed the ugly past of a supposedly “progressive” city. One immediate question: is “hate speech” protected by the First Amendment?