Debra J. Saunders

(Over time, I'll be examining the case -- as this controversy will not go away. On the one hand, I've seen journalists who so want to believe that mean-spirited law enforcement officials prosecuted an innocent man that they've willfully ignored overwhelming evidence of guilt. As Scheidegger noted, the Willingham case "has been the subject of a lot of selective reporting." On the other hand, though Perry is right to point out that a jury convicted Willingham and appellate courts upheld the verdict, his 2009 decision to dismiss the chairman of a state forensic panel that was supposed to review the Willingham case works against him. The San Antonio Express-News editorialized that Perry's political maneuvers to thwart a review were "unconscionable.")

On the compassionate conservative side, Perry has commuted three death sentences to life in prison. In 2007, on the advice of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, Perry granted a reprieve to stop the lethal injection of Kenneth Foster because Foster drove the getaway car but was not the shooter in a 1996 robbery/homicide. Perry also signed the bill that created life without parole as an alternative to the death penalty.

I think the death penalty could be a much bigger problem for President Barack Obama as he seeks re-election. Obama says that he supports the death penalty, but his administration opposed Texas' scheduled execution of Humberto Leal -- who was convicted in the 1994 murder/rape of a 16-year-old -- because Leal, a Mexican national raised in San Antonio, had not been advised that he was entitled to consult with the Mexican Consulate. Perry would not oblige, and Leal was executed.

Also, under the Obama administration this year, the Drug Enforcement Administration seized the lethal injection drug sodium thiopental from Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee on the grounds that the Food and Drug Administration has not approved drugs intended to execute convicted killers.

Yes, folks, those are your tax dollars at work in the Obama administration -- funding federal law enforcement raids designed to undermine state laws.

It doesn't matter that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld lethal injection by a 7-2 margin in a 2008 ruling. If there is one way Democrats know how to use the federal government successfully, it is to sabotage state laws they don't like.

Debra J. Saunders

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