Sunday, October 23rd, 2016

A question of life and death


A proposed advisory death penalty referendum could be held as early as September if supporters get their way. I’m in the weird position of being in favor of sending this to referendum while opposing the death penalty. Having the referendum at the September primary has the added bonus of it not getting used for partisan advantage (Republicans can’t use it to drive up their voter turnout against Democrats). While Republicans have a hotly contested primary for governor, Democrats have an overheated race for attorney general.

Democrats would be wise to drop their objections to the referendum and prepare to make a case before the public. I think they may find it easier than they thought once the debate gets into the specifics of who gets killed and how. Of course, arguing on the side of the intrinsic value of human life may make a few Democrats uncomfortable, but a chance for an honest debate on the death penalty with little to gain politically by either side is too great an opportunity to pass up.

Fred at Real Debate has a point. Democrats that support meaningless little referendums in places like Watertown on the war in Iraq but then oppose this referendum are going to look incredibly hypocritical, if not intellectually dishonest.

Update! Congressman Mark Green, candidate for governor, wants the death penalty. So does Waukesha County District Attorney Paul Bucher, who is running for state attorney general.

“I support Senator Alan Lasee’s referendum on the death penalty and I’ll support legislation for aggravated murder cases, law enforcement murders and cases where the murderer shows a total disregard for the victim, provided DNA evidence is available,” said Bucher.

If elected Attorney General, Bucher said he would actively campaign to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot and passed in Wisconsin. He called Senate Joint Resolution 5, currently being considered by the Senate, a big step in the right direction.

And so does JB Van Hollen, also running for state attorney general.

“I have long believed that the death penalty should be an option before Wisconsin juries who find individuals guilty of the most heinous crimes,” Van Hollen said. “As a former federal prosecutor, I know that this option is not something to be taken lightly.”

Update! 3/8/06 Candidate for governor Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker makes it unanimous among the four Republicans competing in a state-wide primary this year. Brian Fraley has some comments and a response from Walker on this development.

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