Law Quarterly

Mental Disability and Capital Punishment


Thirty-three years ago, in 1985, Vernon Madison shot and killed a police officer, and shot and injured his girlfriend while on parole. Madison had three trials, arguing during the first two that he was mentally ill and in the third that he was acting in self-defense and thus should be considered not guilty. He was sentenced in 1994 after a jury recommended life without parole. In January of 2018, Madison was set to be executed. He was evaluated and it was determined that he understood enough to know what he was being executed for. Madison filed a petition, arguing that he was not competent enough but did not receive an answer until the day of his scheduled execution. He ate two oranges as his last meal and did not have any final words. Half an hour prior to the execution, however, Justice Clarence Thomas put a stay on his execution. (more…)

Hate Speech and Charlottesville


One of the most widely misunderstood aspects of the United States Constitution is one of the most well-known clauses: freedom of speech. While most people understand that speech is protected under the First Amendment of the Constitution, they do not understand that hate speech is also protected under the First Amendment. Most people assume that when speech is targeted, hurtful, or morally wrong it is unconstitutional and therefore illegal, this misconception is easily seen through social media. After the Charlottesville protests, many people took to Twitter or Facebook to declare that the white-supremacists should be arrested for their speech alone. However, it has been shown through various Supreme Court cases that hate speech, including symbolic hate speech, is in fact protected and constitutional. (more…)