Leavenworth St. will update here as the news goes up.
**UPDATE at 3pm**
Needed about 114,000 to stop the Death Penalty repeal from going into effect.
@NE4DeathPenalty has said that they (likely) have the 57,000 signatures to get the issue on the ballot in November 2016, but have been mum about whether or not they will be able to put the new law repealing the Death Penalty on hold. That would take about 114,000 signature.
As we have noted before, the CW is that you need/should have around 15% more signatures than you need, to insure against contested sigs, etc. The computers tell us that number puts the “desired” tally around 131,000. OWH reporters are Tweetering that @NE4DeathPenalty peeps are getting an additional 1,000 signatures TODAY, to bolster their position.
Considering those numbers, efforts, and press conferences, it would seem likely that they will be over the 114,000 mark. The question is just “by how much?”
There has been some info that says they are up to at least 150,000 and that they have validated, on their own, more than 120,000 — seeing validation amounts around 75%.
We won’t be surprised to see them hit that number, or even better.
All of this says they have put out the very difficult, and expensive, effort to get where they need to be on this.
And of course this is only Step 1.
Paul Hammel of the OWH was Tweeting that the five to six weeks it will take to verify signatures could mean LEGAL questions could pop-up about the Death Penalty in the mean time.
Back in the Law School days, the prof would point out that the issue of Ripeness arises first. In other words, if there ain’t a REAL issue before then, no one will pay attention to an imagined question. The Governor and AG would have to a) Get the drugs required and then b) Press forward to put someone to death before the signatures are counted.
Which won’t happen.
But the Death Penalty questions will get more heated as the campaign rolls along. The OWH recently gave two opposing views in their Opinion Section a whirl. The first, J. Kirk Brown — he of the recent dustup regarding the Heineman admin pursuing the Death Penalty — gave the Pro stance. Retired Judge Ron Reagan — interviewed on The Wheels Down Politics Show a few weeks back — gave the Anti stance.
Interestingly, Brown gave essentially the same opinion as Jonah Goldberg gave when I spoke to him on The Wheels Down Politics Show. That is, the questions of cost, and deterrence, and sentencing advantages and fairness, are all side questions to the main one regarding the Death Sentence: Do some people deserve the ultimate penalty for certain crimes?
Brown endeavors to answer that question.
Judge Reagan, on the other hand posits that the main reason for sentences are to deter crimes. Reagan literally chuckled on my show at the idea that the Death Sentence is a mere “punishment”. But as Brown, Goldberg and others have pointed out, if deterrence is REALLY your goal, you can come up with much better deterrents than jail or even death. Heck, go to the middle east where theft can cause you to lose your hands. Or maybe Malaysia where littering can get you a caning. Those are probably pretty effective.
Now you can certainly disagree that death is an appropriate punishment for certain crimes. (And there is also a decent argument that there should even be a higher standard than “beyond reasonable doubt”.)
But the punishment question is really the ultimate question in the Death Penalty debate, that must be answered before all others. All the rest are side questions.