A few years ago, any state ending the death penalty struck most political observers as an extraordinary event. Following Gregg v. Georgia (1976), which ended a four-year hiatus on capital punishment nationally, state after state reinstated the death penalty. This trend continued into the 1990s, as even deep blue states like New York brought it back. In this environment dominated by tough-on-crime rhetoric, a state ending the death penalty seemed impossible.
That changed in 2007, when New Jersey became the first state since Gregg to repeal the death penalty legislatively. After New Jersey, other states – New Mexico, Illinois, Connecticut, Maryland – followed suit. With each state that repealed the death penalty, it became less of a surprise. But one development this year caught people off guard: a legislature in a red state, Nebraska, voted to scrap its death penalty. Continue reading “Ending the Death Penalty Because of, not in Spite of, Conservative Principles”