AMERICAN NOTES: The Popular Death Penalty

The nation's courts were meant to be not a barometer of prevailing public opinion but an arbiter of law. Nevertheless, as the Supreme Court of California last February and later the U.S. Supreme Court moved to outlaw capital punishment, Californians at least may feel justified in claiming that the high judges are acting against the popular will. A Mervin Field California Poll disclosed last week that the death penalty is growing rather than receding in popularity. Fully 66% of Californians now favor use of the gas chamber for those who commit serious crimes, while only 24% oppose it and 10%...

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