A ceiling which we are doomed to forever struggle against

Elie Mystal on what a rat bastard Neil Gorsuch is:

We live in a culture that fetishizes vengeance. Nobody is going to cry if Tony Stark blasts Thanos’s face off this summer. Nobody is going to care if Game of Thrones returns with a ritualistic burning of the Lannisters. Morally, our society is more at peace with the death penalty than it might seem.

Compared to moral philosophy, the law offers a much more compelling case against capital punishment. Some would argue that the first law is a law against capital punishment: thou shalt not kill. And if Charlton Heston is not your idea of a law-giver, political philosophers will tell you that the only reason we’re even in a “society” is because “law” was the only way to stop the endless cycle of revenge-killings that we would clearly engage in without it. The law has ever tried to mollify our thirst for vengeance.

This week, Gorsuch wrote a majority opinion that was both shockingly cruel and entirely consistent with arch-conservative thought. The case is called Bucklew v. Precythe. Russell Bucklew is a convicted murderer whose depraved crimes are not in dispute. He was sentenced to death in Missouri. Missouri is a lethal-injection state, but Bucklew has a rare medical condition that would cause him to be in extreme pain as the lethal drugs do their work. Bucklew appealed his sentence, arguing that the pain would be a violation of his Eighth Amendment protections, and asked for alternative methods of death that are not sanctioned under Missouri law.

Gorsuch, writing for a 5-4 majority, denied his appeal. Gorsuch wrote: “The Eighth Amendment forbids ‘cruel and unusual’ methods of capital punishment but does not guarantee a prisoner a painless death.” That’s about the most heartless-bastard thing I’ve read in a while, and I work on the Internet.

It does seem harsh.

The Eighth Amendment should not be caged and hobbled in accordance with the wishes of the simple and bigoted minds who wrote it. It’s not our fault that these hypocrites blurted out a principle that would honor human dignity more than they had the will to in their own time. Way back in 1958, the Supreme Court said that the Eighth Amendment “must draw its meaning from the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society.” The Eighth Amendment isn’t an artifact; it’s a challenge. It’s not something to hide behind; it’s something to live up to.

But Neil Gorsuch, and a legion of conservative legal “thinkers” like him, don’t want our society to mature and evolve. They want it to arrest and ossify. They don’t view the Constitution as a floor upon which we can build a better society;, they view it as [a] ceiling which we are doomed to forever struggle against.

People will suffer because of this opinion. More people will spend their last moments on this earth in agonizing pain, because of this decision. That primarily (though not exclusively) “bad” people will suffer is the only reason Gorsuch thinks he can get away with authorizing such suffering. (I’ll spare you Brett Kavanaugh’s concurring opinion in this case, because it’s just a thoughtless contemplation of firing squads. He sounds like a child who’s just figured out he’s strong enough to pull the wings off a fly.)

This decision is immoral. It is painful. It is evil. You don’t even have to be morally against the death penalty to understand what has been done here. You just have to be more decent than Neil Gorsuch.

Do you ever feel as if we’re living in a nightmare?

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