Truth to Power

Supremes pass on Bible sentence

Supreme Court won’t disturb death sentence in case of Texas jurors who had Bible with them

HOUSTON (AP) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday turned away a challenge from a Texas death row inmate who claimed his constitutional rights were violated by jurors who consulted a Bible.

In the appeal, Khristian Oliver’s defense said jurors reviewed a biblical passage stating that a murderer who used an iron object to kill “shall surely be put to death.” Jurors were deciding whether to sentence Oliver to death for shooting and bludgeoning his victim with the barrel of a gun.

The court previously has said jurors should base their verdicts only on evidence presented in the courtroom.

At issue was a passage in Chapter 35 of Numbers which, in the New American Standard Bible, reads: “But if he struck him down with an iron object, so that he died, he is a murderer; the murderer shall surely be put to death.” Some translations refer to the weapon as an “iron rod.”

“There is contradictory evidence regarding whether the jurors’ consultation of the Bible occurred before or after the jury reached its decision,” the 5th Circuit said in its ruling in the case. It said that Oliver’s appeal failed to present clear evidence that the Bible’s use “had a substantial and injurious effect.”</em>

I once worked with a woman who objected to me calling someone a fool. Oh no, you can’t say that, the Bible says call no man a fool.

Can I call him a moron? She said sure, that was fine.

Hence my problem with someone who takes a book of mythology, a hodgepodge of poorly translated fables, and attempts to use it in the real world. It is a work of fiction, the same as Mythology”</a>.* And frankly, I wouldn’t consider someone who has to consult ANY book- no matter how old- a part of any “jury of my peers”, but then again, I wouldn’t break into somebodies house and kill them, and once you do that, your options rapidly decrease.

*And if anyone finds the comparison insulting, think about it a bit.


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