What if Oregon voters did get the chance to vote again on the death penalty, and what if they affirmed it? The question for Governor Kitzhaber then is whether he would keep standing in the way of it being carried out.
As we've been discussing, capital punishment has been carried out only twice since Oregon voters approved it in 1984. In both cases, the condemned men volunteered to be executed by forgoing the appeals they could have pursued. Now Kitzhaber refuses to carry out the execution of Gary Haugen, who is challenging the refusal in court.
In the legislature, some opponents of the death penalty want to ask the voters next year to amend the constitution to repeal it. But it sounds as though some others are afraid the voters might turn down their measure, thus affirming rather than repealing the death penalty. And then what?
Assuming the governor remains in office after 2014, would he then continue to insist on giving death penalty candidates reprieves? During his most recent campaign in 2010, Kitzhaber said nothing about intending to resist the death penalty laws. Maybe nobody asked him about it. I know I didn't. After all, it was not a burning issue, considering that the courts on their own were doing all they could to prevent executions.
In any case, now that the death penalty issue has been revived -- sorry -- it would be helpful to have the voters once again say what they want. It would clarify things, especially for whoever runs for governor next year. (hh)
From Hazel Siebrecht: My question for Kitzhaber and the rest of the bleeding heart liberals who morally oppose the death penalty: what about defenseless aborted babies? Are they morally opposed to that?