Baltimore Sun’s BEST party in 2 weeks

Roughly Speaking podcast: Is the death penalty on death row? (episode 147)

In this podcast: 

It has been 40 years since the Supreme Court ruled outright on the constitutionality of the death penalty. The court took up issues related to the death penalty  what kind of drugs can be used to kill a man, for instance  but, as to whether lethal injection by the state amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, a violation of the 8th amendment, the court has not visited constitutionality since 1976. That could change in the near future because of what might turn out to be a landmark dissent by Justice Stephen Breyer.

In June 2015, dissenting from the majority’s opinion in an Oklahoma case known as Glossip v. Gross, Breyer suggested that the death penalty had become so problematic in its application  arbitrary, unfair, unreliable  that it might be unconstitutional. He said the court should consider the question again and invited a new challenge to it. Legal scholars believe Breyer’s dissent sets the stage for a fresh look at the death penalty by the Supreme Court.

The Brookings Institution in Washington asked University of Baltimore law professor John Bessler to analyze and annotate Justice Breyer’s dissent in the Glossip case so that more Americans could read it and understand it. The result is a small, but fascinating book titled "Against The Death Penalty," with John Bessler, one of the nation’s leading authorities on the death penalty, as editor.

Using our app? Go to to listen to the podcast.

To subscribe: On iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches, search for "Roughly Speaking" in the Podcasts app. On Android devices, search for the podcast in the Google Play Music app or in a third-party podcast app such as Stitcher Radio, BeyondPod or Pocket Casts, or, if the app allows, manually add its feed URL. On desktop computers, subscribe through iTunes. Or, follow on SoundCloud. Need help? Email

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad