In the last few weeks several people have asked me of my predictions for the abolitionist movement in 2009. I think we should look at the next 8 years to get a true prospective.
Barack Obama has, for the next four years, the task of appointing justices on the Supreme Court. I have no doubt he would appoint liberal judges whom, by nature, would be against capital punishment. The problem is that none of the current justices are ready to die or retire from this life time job. Justice Paul Stevens is the longest serving judge at this time and does not want to retire. Scalia and Thomas (Both Pro Death penalty Vultures) Have no wishes to quit and allow the liberals to amend the constitution. There are predictions that one or two of the conservative judges will retire rather than work with a Democrat president. This is wishful thinking at most. These guys could care less who is president. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg has some health issues but I think she will stick around for 2 or 3 more years. Justice David Souter has been whining about how much he hates his job yet he remains. avid conservative Justices Roberts and Alito will, no doubt, stay awhile.
We must remember that Obama is a lawyer. Although we cannot expect politics to not play a part in his Supreme Court nominations He will pick lawyers of the highest caliber. He already has his sights on Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Kathleen Sullivan. The mere fact that he is considering these women brings to light what I expect to be the big news item for 2009. I believe Obama will scrap Roe Vs Wade. This will make it hard for we abolitionists to get press until this issue is dealt with.
If Obama were to get re-elected and serve another four years, that will take us to the year 2016. That is my estimated time line to end the death penalty in America because the next president will probably be conservative. If we do not end the death penalty in the next 8 years our struggle will be much harder.
By 2012 I expect to see many more states abolish the DP. We should gain New Mexico, Maryland and Montana in 2009 alone. Opinions are changing. More and more people are learning about the death penalty. As Justice Thurgood Marshall said in Furman v. Georgia in 1972.) " if the American people were better informed about the immorality of the death penalty, they would consider it shocking, unjust, and unacceptable". We are getting converts on such a regular basis that we may indeed be sparking a trend in the American public.
For many years I have predicted a snowball effect in the abolitionist movement. We gradually grow and gain momentum thanks to the hard work of all the abolitionist groups, public opinion is changing. This year speakers like Witness to Innocence, Journey of hope, Murder victim family members and a host of other groups, coalitions and projects have reached tens of thousands of people on a personal,in-your-face basis. Our media events have reached millions. We have raised public awareness and the polls show that we are winning the battle.
As this momentum builds I believe it will become a juggernaut which the Pro-death penalty vultures cannot stop. I expect to see it happen in my life time. We must continue our struggle. We must fight for what we know is right knowing that the corrupt prosecutors and the other pro Death Penalty minions are working against us in the shadows. Waiting for their chance to kill somebody.