Bucklew v. Precythe: Cruelty at the Supreme Court – The Atlantic


We have our own Torquemada, righteous and cruel. No surprise from the “frozen trucker” judge.

«Gorsuch brushed aside this claim as “foreclosed by precedent”; the words “all Eighth Amendment claims” in Glossip, he wrote, mean that no “as applied” appeal can ever be heard. Such an aggressive reading of one word—”all”—is at best sloppy judging. Glossip didn’t decide the “as applied” question or even, really, refer to it. Bucklew’s claims might be wrong, but they were not “foreclosed.”


For at least 60 years, the Supreme Court has consistently held that the ban on “cruel and unusual punishments” is not limited to the ideas prevalent in the 18th century (when crimes were sometimes punished by hanging, whipping, branding, and even mutilation). Instead, in a 1958 case called Trop v. Dulles, the Court said that “the words of the Amendment are not precise, and … their scope is not static”; instead, it “must draw its meaning from the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society.” This is a hugely important precedent, invoked dozens of times since then. …. It is nothing less than vital to protecting American society from the growing clamor for barbaric treatment of the powerless.

But the majority opinion pretended that Trop did not exist, instead turning to a repellent discussion of how much it hurt to be hanged in the 18th century (rather a lot, apparently) and whether drowning in your own blood is really all that much worse.


“There are higher values than ensuring that executions run on time,” she wrote.

One might expect the author of Gorsuch’s book to agree with that. That Gorsuch was big on human values. “All persons innately have dignity and are worthy of respect without regard to some perceived value based on some instrumental scale of usefulness or merit,” that Gorsuch wrote.

That Gorsuch was not on the bench Monday.»

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