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What Think-Aloud Protocols Can Teach Us about How People Manage Political Information
Unformatted Document Text:  Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, responding to Justice Blackmun in a Texas death penalty case, Callins v. Collins, Feb. 22, 1994. The Fifth Amendment provides that '[n]o persons shall be held to answer for a capital...crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury...nor be deprived of life...without the due process of law.' This clearly permits the death penalty to be imposed, and establishes beyond doubt that the death penalty is not one of the 'cruel and unusual punishments' prohibited by the Eighth Amendment…. Convictions in opposition to the death penalty are often passionate and deeply held. That would be no excuse for reading them into a Constitution that does not contain them, even if they represented the convictions of a majority of Americans. Much less is there any excuse for using that course to thrust a minority's views upon the people. Justice Blackmun begins his statement by describing with poignancy the death of a convicted murderer by lethal injection. He chooses, as the case in which to make that statement, one of the less brutal of the murders that regularly come before us, the murder of a man ripped by a bullet suddenly and unexpectedly, with no opportunity to prepare himself and his affairs, and left to bleed to death on the floor of a tavern. The death­by­injection which Justice Blackmun describes looks pretty desirable next to that. It looks even better next to some of the other cases currently before us, which Justice Blackmun did not select as the vehicle for his announcement that the death penalty is always unconstitutional, for example, the case of the 11­year­old girl raped by four men and then killed by stuffing her panties down her throat. How enviable a quiet death by lethal injection compared with that!"  27

Authors: Bernstein, Jeffrey.
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background image
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, responding to Justice Blackmun in
a Texas death penalty case, Callins v. Collins, Feb. 22, 1994.
The Fifth Amendment provides that '[n]o persons shall be held to answer for a capital...crime, 
unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury...nor be deprived of life...without the due 
process of law.' This clearly permits the death penalty to be imposed, and establishes beyond 
doubt that the death penalty is not one of the 'cruel and unusual punishments' prohibited by the 
Eighth Amendment…. Convictions in opposition to the death penalty are often passionate and 
deeply held. That would be no excuse for reading them into a Constitution that does not contain 
them, even if they represented the convictions of a majority of Americans. Much less is there any 
excuse for using that course to thrust a minority's views upon the people.
Justice Blackmun begins his statement by describing with poignancy the death of a convicted 
murderer by lethal injection. He chooses, as the case in which to make that statement, one of the 
less brutal of the murders that regularly come before us, the murder of a man ripped by a bullet 
suddenly and unexpectedly, with no opportunity to prepare himself and his affairs, and left to bleed 
to death on the floor of a tavern. The death­by­injection which Justice Blackmun describes looks 
pretty desirable next to that. It looks even better next to some of the other cases currently before 
us, which Justice Blackmun did not select as the vehicle for his announcement that the death 
penalty is always unconstitutional, for example, the case of the 11­year­old girl raped by four men 
and then killed by stuffing her panties down her throat. How enviable a quiet death by lethal 
injection compared with that!" 
27


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