510 U.S. 1141 (1994), decided 22 Feb. 1994 to deny a writ of certiorari, Scalia concurring, Blackmun in dissent. The justices denied without opinion a writ of certiorari to hear the appeal of Bruce Edwin Callins, a murderer awaiting execution in Texas for the 1980 killing of a man during a robbery. The Court's action was another indication of the hardening line the justices took on capital punishment and criminal justice generally, but for Justice Harry Blackmun it was too much to accept. Blackmun took the unusual step of issuing a dissent without a written opinion from the Court. He announced that he was unequivocally turning against the death penalty because he no longer believed that the procedural safeguards erected in the 1970s were working. Blackmun had voted with the majority in Gregg v. Georgia (1976) that had restored the death penalty. His dissent in Callins made clear that he believed he had made a mistake in that case and that he would not make another one. Justice Antonin Scalia's dissent mocked both Blackmun's passion and his constitutional logic. Callins was shortly put to death by lethal injection.
Kermit L. Hall