Virginia executes more people in this country than any other state than Texas, so the statistics seem to sway us toward a prediction that Governor Tim Kaine will allow the upcoming execution of John Muhammad, the DC Sniper.
And Kaine is the only barrier betweeen John Muhammad and death.
That’s because the United States Supreme Court officially declined to hear Mr. Muhammad’s appeal yesterday — and what is unusual about that is they did so long before anyone expected them to do so. As Justices John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Sonia Sotomayor explained in a joint statement authored by Stevens, under standard operating procedure the high court would have taken this matter under consideration during its November 24th Justices’ conference.
By declining to stay the execution in order to maintain that SOP Justice Stevens wrote, “…we have allowed Virginia to truncate our deliberative process on a matter — involving a death row inmate — that demands the most careful attention.”
Importantly, the Justices’ statement points out a crucial problem in this case, something of which we all need to be aware: Virginia scheduled John Muhammad’s execution before all of his legal avenues had been exhausted.
That’s right — Virginia scheduled a man for death before the legal processes had been completed, those legal safeguards that are in place to insure that no legal errors had been made. To quote the Statement, ” ‘[t]his case highlights once again the perversity of executing inmates before their appeals process has been fully concluded.”
We’re watching, Governor Kaine.