A GOP congressional nominee in Iowa has a succinct — and tragic — reason for bucking his party’s stance on the death penalty: “we have put innocent people to death.”
John Archer, the Republican challenger in Iowa’s second congressional district currently represented by Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-IA), was asked during an interview with the Des Moines Register editorial board today about any issues where he differs with his party. “I believe the Party platform calls for the death penalty and I’m personally opposed to the death penalty,” Archer said. He pointed to his experience clerking at the Illinois Supreme Court where, he saw, “firsthand” that “we have put innocent people to death.”
QUESTIONER: Are there any issues where you part ways with the Republican Party? ARCHER: Yes. I believe the Party platform calls for the death penalty and I’m personally opposed to the death penalty. Having clerked for an Illinois Supreme Court Justice, I know firsthand, and unfortunately, we have put innocent people to death. Life is too precious to do that.
Though Archer did not specify a precise case, the morality of the death penalty has been in the headlines recently. An Ohio inmate who had spent 24 years on death row was freed last week after a Catholic priest discovered the prosecutor had withheld evidence showing the man’s innocence. Last month, a Texas inmate was executed despite the Supreme Court’s prohibition on putting mentally retarded individuals to death. Meanwhile, a Georgia man was put to death last year despite a worldwide campaign on his behalf noting that there was too much doubt about whether or not he was actually guilty.
Because of problems with the death penalty that Archer alluded to, including racial and socioeconomic inequities, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) last year made his state the 16th to abolish the death penalty, 11 years after Gov. George Ryan (R) imposed a moratorium on executions in the state.