Speaking in New Hampshire, Donald Trump said on Thursday that if elected president, he will make the death penalty mandatory for anyone convicted of killing a police officer via executive order.
“One of the first things I’d do in terms of executive order, if I win, will be to sign strong, strong statement that would go out to the country, out to the world, anybody killing policeman police woman, police officer, anybody killing police officer, the death penalty is going to happen,” he said.
“We can’t let this go,” he added, speaking to a New Hampshire crowd alongside the New England Police Benevolent Association, shortly after the group voted to endorse Trump.
While I've written before about how I support the use of the death penalty, there's a few things wrong with what Trump said. Namely, it violates the 10th Amendment as well as the 6th Amendment, and possibly the 8th and 5th. Also, it's not exactly the most "conservative" thing in the world to alter the criminal justice system via executive order.
Secondly, in the states that allow or use the death penalty, killing a police officer or government official is an aggravating factor that elevates the murder charge into a capital crime eligible for the death penalty. There's no need for this Trump executive order, as it's already the law on the books in the states that actually have capital punishment. Further, I'm not sure how this executive order would be able to successfully overthrow the laws on the books prohibiting capital punishment in the states that have ended its use. The Supreme Court has already banned the death penalty before, and the suit that is likely to emerge in response to this executive order (if it were to happen) could easily backfire on President Trump.
I'm a death penalty supporter, and I think that people who kill police officers should be executed--if a jury and judge decides that this is an appropriate punishment for their crime. That's how the American justice system works. Mandatory minimums are bad policies to begin with--and mandating capital punishment is just foolish.