althouse asks why
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Twinkie Time in Connecticut

     In case you have not considered this before, heed it now: Death row can be a depressing place to live. It can undermine your will to live.

No kidding.

This insight will now be tested in a court of law in Connecticut. Serial killer Michael Ross, now in his eighteenth year on death row, had decided to waive further appeals and die. With execution hours away, his lawyer was threatened with loss of his law license by a federal judge on a mission. The lawyer and his client now agree to seek another compentency exam.

Ross' public defenders, who were fired by the client years ago, are now back with a vengeance. Together with private counsel representing Ross' father, the lawyers hope to put on evidence of something called "death row syndrome." The premise: People can wig out on the row and become irrational. I don't know; perhaps there is an expert for every obvious truth. Care to retain me on the color of snow? We've had plenty here in New England. Here's a summary of my testimony: It's white.

Our courts continue to hold that the death penalty is not cruel and unusual as a matter of law under the Eighth Amendment. That is bizarre, but it is the law. So now we are faced with a condemned man who wants to die. The response of his new self-appointed band of lawyers: It is wrong to want to die. Query: Why is it all right to want to kill, but not all right to want to die. These lawyers don't know their Immanuel Kant, apparently.

What is really going on is a form of guerilla war. Death penalty opponents will do anything to stop the killing. Any theory will do. So we get death row syndrome and the earth-shattering insight that the row is a hard place to live.

Expect a backlash. If killing is permitted but long confinement cruel, then the obvious solution is to shorten confinement by killing quicker. That's what Ross wants.

Light a candle and pass the Twinkies. The sad fate of Michael Ross will no doubt make more bad law before it ends.