It seems Nino Scalia has outdone himself on this one. You’ll have to read the dissent all the way to the end to see what I mean.
Thankfully it was not the majority opinion. By a slender 5-4 margin, the federal courthouse doors remain open to state prisoners who properly take the time to develop their federal habeas corpus claims – which will almost certainly require more time than the draconian 1 year statute of limitations the AEDPA imposed – have a legitimate and exhausted federal law based objection to their conviction or prosecution, and who have made a strong showing that they are ‘actually innocent’ of the crime(s) for which they are imprisoned.
Perhaps there is hope yet. Apparently not every Justice on the SCOTUS thinks that wrongly convicted innocent people should be relegated to seeking a pardon, as if they had done something wrong and not the state that wrongfully convicted them:
This is not to say, however, that petitioner is left without a forum to raise his actual innocence claim. For under Texas law, petitioner may file a request for executive clemency. See Tex. Const., Art. IV., §11; Tex. Code Crim. Proc. Ann., Art. 48.01 (Vernon 1979). Clemency [n.12] is deeply rooted in our Anglo American tradition of law, and is the historic remedy for preventing miscarriages of justice where judicial process has been exhausted. [n.13]
Ugh. Sure, bring your clemency petition to Rick Perry.
You wonder if in writing that Justice Rehnquist was meaning to be funny, given the infinitesimal odds of receiving mercy from a Governor of Texas. But it’s almost more banal than that. It’s about whether the high and mighty must continually be bothered with the insignificant problems of the rabble, such as that they have been wrongfully imprisoned or will be wrongfully executed. Justice Scalia’s point is exactly the same: to be forced to spend time and effort to properly adjudicate the guilt or innocence of another human being who has perhaps been wrongfully convicted of a crime and imprisoned is humiliating, and beneath the efforts of federal judges. That’s what he means when he refers to the Augean stables.
Though I’m sure he felt that the hoi polloi would not be smart or learned enough to figure out what he was really saying.
Nino certainly is slipping in his dotage, revealing far too much of the elitism that he formerly kept under wraps, or at least tamed.