Well, let’s not. Because actually we can’t.
I am not outspoken about all things Trump. Everything is so ridiculous to me that my only thoughts are about guessing when the nightmare will end. All of you people who have ever made fun of government policy wonks—don’t you wish they were in charge again?
A few thoughts on this very blustery statement.
Case law, through years of cases related to capital punishment argued before The Supreme Court (48 as of 2016), has narrowed and specifically defined when and how capital punishment can be applied. Capital punishment, or the death penalty, may only be sentenced for capital crimes. These crimes are defined as espionage, treason, and death resulting from aircraft hijacking.
HOWEVER. Capital crimes consist of the offense of murder. such as murder committed during a drug-related drive-by shooting, murder during a kidnapping, murder for hire, and genocide.
Simply stated, capital punishment is primarily sentenced for murder.
Not drug dealers. The misguided, speak-before-thinking, President does not understand, nor seek legal counsel, on the rule of law, case law, or the Constitution. Trump’s thinking is that drug dealers can kill people therefore they should get the death penalty (paraphrased).
If this logic was true, then DUI manslaughter offenders should get the death penalty because they kill people. If a surgeon made a fatal error during a procedure, the surgeon killed someone and the death penalty would apply. If a domestic violence victim kills his or her’s abuser, they should be sentenced with capital punishment.
State and Federal courts are so backlogged with cases now, can you imagine the log-jam when courts are tasked with redefining how capital punishment is applied?
And so is the notion of sentencing drug dealers with capital punishment.
More Americans died of drug overdoses in 2016 than died in the entirety of the Vietnam War—the result of the U.S.’s opioid epidemic, according to Vox.com. I do not profess to know the answer to the very complex and horrific opioid addiction epidemic, although I imagine that the answer lies somewhere within a partnership of physicians, rehabilitation programs vs. incarceration, Big Pharma, and every other stakeholder in this uphill battle.
But this I do know. Empty threats made by the President of the United States, made in public or on Twitter, made specifically for the purpose of attention-grabbing attempts to change the news cycle away from him and an adult film star, well…
…talk to your lawyers. Being his own counsel and firing everyone in his way worked so well for President Nixon. History will tell how well it works for you.
Wikipedia List of United States Supreme Court decisions on capital punishment.
Death penalty offenses. ProCon.org.