The Corner

Law & the Courts

Gavin Newsom Is Nullifying California Law

Democratic gubernatorial frontrunner Gavin Newsom speaks in San Diego, Calif., November 2, 2018. (Mike Blake/REUTERS)

I oppose the death penalty. I also oppose Governor Newsom’s lawless imposition of a “moratorium” on the death penalty in California. These two positions are not mutually exclusive.

Section 1 of the “Executive” article within the California constitution holds that “the Governor shall see that the law is faithfully executed.” By issuing his order, Newsom is flatly refusing to do that, and in so doing he is engaging in precisely the sort of legal sophistry, political norm-breaking, and rank contempt for democracy (and juries) about which we are all supposed to be so alarmed. Irrespective of their views on the death penalty, those who cherish separation of powers and the rule of law should refuse to applaud this move. That the order has been covered solely on its merits tells us a great deal about the consistency of the press corps’ commitment to process.

​​The gubernatorial reprieve power is designed for case-by-case evaluations. It is not designed to be used wholesale as a means by which the executive branch can effectively decline to execute laws it opposes. The death penalty has been explicitly and repeatedly affirmed by the voters in California in the last few years — not merely in opinion polls, but in legally binding propositions. Just two years ago, voters in California not only refused to repeal the death penalty, they voted to speed up the appeal process. If I lived in the state of California, I would have voted for repeal. But I would have lost. Governor Newsom lost, too. Now, like Barack Obama and Donald Trump, he is doing what he wants anyway. This is not “prosecutorial discretion” — or any form of “discretion” for that matter. It is not a “reprieve.” It is not a “moratorium.” It is a nullification. It is wrong.

Most Popular

Elections

Elizabeth Warren Is Jussie Smollett

Elizabeth Warren has a moving story about being fired from a teaching job because she was pregnant, a story that perfectly complements her political narrative that she is the tribune and champion of those who have been treated unfairly by the powerful. Joe Biden has a moving — and horrifying — story about his ... Read More
PC Culture

Defiant Dave Chappelle

When Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special Sticks & Stones came out in August, the overwhelming response from critics was that it was offensive, unacceptable garbage. Inkoo Kang of Slate declared that Chappelle’s “jokes make you wince.” Garrett Martin, in the online magazine Paste, maintained that the ... Read More
Culture

The Origins of the Transgender Movement

Editor’s Note: This article has been adapted from remarks delivered at a Heritage Foundation summit. I’ve been asked to talk about the origins of transgenderism and how it relates to children and their exploitation. But first, I would like to start with a little story. Yesterday I was wandering around ... Read More
World

Kurdish, Syrian, and Turkish Ironies

Outrage met Donald Trump’s supposedly rash decision to pull back U.S. troops from possible confrontational zones between our Kurdish friends in Syria and Recep Erdogan’s expeditionary forces. Turkey claims that it will punish the Syrian Kurds for a variety of supposed provocations, including aiding and ... Read More
Sports

LeBron James Looks Like a Fraud

So, LeBron James claimed that Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey was simply “misinformed or not really educated on the situation” when he tweeted his support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. “I don’t want to get into a feud with Daryl Morey, but I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at ... Read More