Where Are the Death Penalty Critics Today?

Wall Street Journal, July 11, 2001.


Timothy McVeigh’s execution today is noteworthy, coming as it does a “mere” six years since the bombing in Oklahoma City and three since he was convicted and sentenced; others like him have been on death row for 10, 12, or even 15 years.

The case itself is noteworthy for another reason: Its failure to provoke the usual outcries against the death penalty, or sympathy for the defendant. The opponents of the death penalty have been unusually quiet about the sentence, and there have been few if any candle-light vigils outside the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind., where McVeigh was being held. Most Americans thought that he deserved to die, and the others were hard-pressed to come up with reasons why he shouldn’t.

The American Civil Liberties Union, for example, was quick to criticize the FBI in the documents matter, saying that “too often the intentional or unintentional withholding of evidence by law enforcement officials unfairly decides the outcome of capital cases.” True, perhaps, but obviously not in this case; McVeigh confessed to the crime.

American Enterprise Institute