Feingold and the Death Penalty
The death penalty is likely to be a subject of conversation across the country this week as a result of the Supreme Court's decision to outlaw the death penalty for juvenile offenders. While not a subject directly related to the possibility of Russ Feingold running for President in 2008, I think it is worth mentioning here because of Senator Feingold's record as one of the most adamant death penalty foes in Congress
Here is the Senator's statement on the Court's decision:
I applaud the Supreme Court's ruling that juvenile executions are unconstitutional. In the past few years, we have taken important strides toward fairness and justice in the administration of the death penalty, and this decision is another step in the right direction. The continued use of the death penalty in any case, however, stands in stark contrast to the principles of justice, liberty, and equality on which our nation was founded. This nation's system of justice should be held to the highest standard, and it is far past time for Congress to reexamine the continued use of the death penalty.
I agree with the Senator and I believe that his unequivocal opposition to the death penalty is yet another example of his courage. Ultimately, I believe opposition to the death penalty is a moral issue. When it comes down to it, the main reason for the death penalty is revenge, and I do not believe the government should be in the revenge business. The government should represent the best, not the worst, instincts of the American people.
That said, the death penalty is not one of the top issues I vote on; fair trade, universal health care, the environment, education, and corporate accountability are all more important priorities. And I think that's the way it is for most people on both sides of the issue. I don't think that the Democrats will lose if they nominate an anti-death penalty candidate as long as they put forward a solid, consistent message on other issues. I also believe voters would respect a candidate who is straight-forward about being totally opposed to the death penalty rather then one who tries to equivocate (i.e. "I was opposed to it, but then I realized that it must be used against the really, really bad guys.")
I think Senator Feingold can win the presidency without yielding in his opposition to the death penalty, and I know he won't yield.
For more on the Senator's views on this issue, check out this page from his Senate website.