Professor Susanna Blumenthal
Susanna Blumenthal
William Prosser Professor of Law and Professor of History
Co-Director of the Program in Law and History

Prof. Blumenthal Authors Washington Post News Analysis on the Execution of William Morva

Professor Susanna Blumenthal wrote a commentary for the Washington Post about the case of William Morva on the day set for his execution by the state of Virginia, pointing to the troubling gap between the Supreme Court’s Eighth Amendment jurisprudence, prohibiting the execution of the insane, and the everyday practices of courts in cases involving severely mentally ill defendants. “Unless and until we clarify what it means to be competent to be executed, death row inmates such as Morva deserve the benefit of the doubt,” wrote Blumenthal. “To proceed otherwise is to run the unacceptable risk of ‘killing one who has no capacity to come to grips with his own conscience or deity,’ as Justice Thurgood Marshall wrote in his 1986 opinion in Ford v. Wainwright. His words bear repetition today as the state of Virginia and its governor stand on the verge of ‘exacting a mindless vengeance.’”