The ACLU of Southern California announced its opposition to Tuesday's planned execution of Manuel Pina Babbitt, a decorated Vietnam veteran. Babbitt was convicted of murder in 1982, by a jury that never heard extensive evidence showing that since his return from Vietnam Babbitt has suffered from severe post-traumatic stress disorder.
The ACLU has long held that the death penalty inherently violates the constitutional bans against cruel and unusual punishment and against deprivation of due process and equal protection of the laws.
The imposition of the death penalty, especially in a case where Mr. Babbitt was most certainly suffering the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder, is inconsistent with the fundamental values of our democratic system,. said Ramona Ripston, executive director of the ACLU of Southern California.
The ACLU believes that, in all circumstances, the death penalty is unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment, and that its discriminatory application violates the Fourteenth Amendment. It is immoral for the state to kill human beings, especially when it does so with such premeditation and ceremony.
"Mr. Babbitt will celebrate his 50th birthday on Monday. We believe it is beyond cruel and unusual punishment to murder this man when the evidence clearly shows that he continues to suffer the horrific after-effects of his military service in Vietnam," commented Stephen Rohde, the president of the ACLU of Southern California. The ACLU believes that capital punishment is a barbaric remnant of uncivilized society. It is immoral in principle, and unfair, racist and discriminatory in practice. As a remedy for crime, it has no purpose and no effect and ought to be abolished now.