Federal Executions Are About the Return of The Rule of Law

  • by:
  • Source: UncoverDC
  • 09/19/2023

Opinion Editorial

On June 15, Attorney General of the United States William Barr suddenly made an announcement that caught many people by surprise. Barr announced that after a seventeen-year hiatus, the federal government would begin resuming executions of federal prisoners sentenced to death.

Barr went on to say that execution dates had already been set for four specific prisoners currently on federal death row:  Daniel Lewis LeeWesley Ira PurkeyDustin Honken and Keith Dwyane Nelson.

The last federal executions had occurred in 2001 [Timothy McVeighJuan Raul Garza] and in 2003 [Louis Jones] under then-President George W. Bush.

Even more surprising, was the fact that these newly set execution dates began just over one month from Barr’s announcement.  Lee’s was scheduled for July 13, Purkey’s for the very next day, July 14, with Honken’s occurring on July 17.

Why this is happening now, three and a half years into Trump’s term as President?  Why is it suddenly so important to the President and the Attorney General that federal executions, long-delayed, now begin proceeding?

Arbitrary Government by Rogue Judges Is Being Brought To An End

Trump has often returned to the theme of “rule of law” during both his candidacy and his presidency.  Activist federal judges in the US court system have been subverting the rule of law for more than seventeen years.

A cabal of elite jurists decided they simply weren’t going to let any more executions proceed after 2003. And they didn’t. Injunction after injunction was filed by one judge after another following the Louis Jones execution, until the Bush DOJ got the message and gave up trying to enforce the law.

When Bush was replaced by new President Barack Obama, the new very liberal administration was more than happy to continue the precedent of doing nothing to move forward with proceeding on federal death penalty cases.

There is nothing wrong with opposition to the death penalty. But it is federal law, passed by the people’s representatives in the houses of Congress, and for members of the judicial branch to obstinately decide to prevent it's being carried out by the executive branch nullifies the authority of both the legislative branch and the executive branch. While citizens vote for members of the Congress and for the Chief Executive, they do not directly vote for federal judges, who are appointed.  This is not how our system of government is supposed to function.

Instead of going about things the proper way, through the legislative branch of the Congress to change the federal law, the political elite class opted for the much simpler and faster solution of having activist judges prevent the law from being followed.

Rule of Elites vs Rule of Law

In fact, the political elite class in Washington DC had long ago begun simply ignoring laws they disagreed with or using the courts to directly prohibit the enforcement of federal laws they didn't like.

Most of the attention regarding this subversion of federal law has been focused on the immigration and sanctuary city issue, but the subversion of the law on federal executions are no less real or important.

This is really about rule by an elite class vs rule by law. Under which system are Americans to live? Why should citizens bother to vote and send representatives to Congress to write laws when the judicial branch is getting to pick and choose which of the laws passed matter and which ones can be ignored and not enforced – or even directly violated without any consequence?

What President Trump and Attorney General Barr are doing is correcting long-standing abuse by the judicial branch, to ensure federal law is followed instead of being subverted by political activists in robes who think they can game the system to achieve their own preferred outcomes.

The Elites Strike Back...Unsuccessfully

Of course, as the fatal dates approached, the political activists in robes did indeed make their appearance.  Washington DC federal judge Tanya Chutkan is now 0-2 in her attempts to thwart resumption of federal executions.

Chutkan first tried to halt the execution of Daniel Lewis Lee, filing an injunction on Monday. AG Barr appealed directly to the Supreme Court, and within hours Chutkan had been overruled, and Lee was executed early Tuesday morning.

Chutkan then tried to halt the Purkey execution scheduled for Tuesday, this time filing not just one, but TWO injunctions to delay it. Once more, Barr and the DOJ quickly took the matter straight to the Supreme Court which ruled against Chutkan again for the second time in three days, and Purkey was executed on Thursday morning, July 16th.

On Friday, Dustin Honken, who murdered five people, including sisters who were ten and six years old, was executedNone of Honken’s own appeals to delay his execution were successful.

A 1997 article from the Globe Gazette reporting on the link between Dustin Honken's methamphetamine distribution case and the disappearances of Greg Nicholson and the Duncan family.

For seventeen years, activist judges sent a message: Do not try this. We will not allow federal executions to proceed. Up until now, they got away with this abuse of the system.

Trump and Barr will clearly demonstrate to them as many times as it takes that they cannot stop the rule of law.


Brian Cates entered the political arena in March 2012, following the death of Andrew Breitbart. He is currently a political columnist for The Epoch Times and UncoverDC. Brian is based in South Texas and is the author of: “Nobody Asked For My Opinion … But Here It Is Anyway!”

Twitter: @drawandstrike
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