Delaware Senate Passes Death Penalty Repeal 11-10.

Filed in National by on March 26, 2013

This late afternoon, the State Senate passed Senate Bill 19, the repeal of the death penalty in Delaware and replacing it with life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. It was not a straight party line vote, to my surprise.

Voting yes were the following Democratic Senators (8):

Voting yes were the following Republican Senators (3):

Voting no were the following Republican Senators (5):

Voting no were the following Democratic Senators (5):

I am surprised by Senator Ernie Lopez and I wonder if he will suffer any consequences downstate in Sussex County. I suppose he fell back on his Catholic upbringing, and that is good. I am just surprised he had the courage to stand up for his beliefs and stare down the Teabaggers in his district.

Cathy Cloutier’s vote does not surprise me at all. It will give her “centrist cred” in her Democratic district upstate.

I am disappointed by Senator Nicole Poore. She earned the Progressive endorsement this past election and I will be curious to hear her explanation. Senators Ennis and Venables are not surprises, but I guess, the votes of Senators Hall-Long and McBride are somewhat surprising.

Your thoughts are welcome, about the Senate votes and about how various Representatives in the House will vote, now that it is clear that this issue, unlike all the rest, is not a clear cut partisan one.

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  1. An amendment placed on the bill eliminates that ‘grandfather’ provision for current death row inhabitants. They are still liable to be put to death.

    As to Cathy Cloutier, no one has been more critical of her than me. But, in an 11-10 vote, every single ‘yes’ vote was essential. I salute her for it, along with everyone who voted yes. Especially the R’s. I never expected three yes votes from that side of the aisle. Good for them.

  2. Delaware Dem says:

    Yeah, that Amendment is odd, even more so when you consider that it was sponsored by Marshall and Peterson. In my mind, in voting on this bill, you are either for the death penalty or you against it. But that amendment must have been necessary to garner votes for it and that is why Peterson and Marshall offered it. I guess I can live with it.

  3. Melbourne Born says:

    SB 19 gets placed in the House Judiciary, Public Safety, or Corrections Committees . With downstate pro death penalty Republicans and Democrats from conservative districts this bill doesn’t make it out of either committee. Don’t get to excited.

  4. The amendment was necessary to get the votes to pass the bill. Without it, they just didn’t have the votes.

  5. Delaware Dem says:

    I guess that explains why that Amendment passed unanimously.

  6. Well, it could also be put in the House House Administration Committee. After all, the bill came out of the Senate Executive Committee.

  7. Delaware Dem says:

    Melbourne Born,

    If that were the case, I guarantee you that this bill would have been bottled up in committee in the Senate. Blevins must have had assurances from Schwartzkopf that it would get a vote in the House.

  8. cassandra m says:

    Monsignor Lavelle needs to have his Bishop ‘splain to him what “Culture of Life” means, I think.

    And I’m curious — did anyone from the Wilmington Diocese testify in favor of this bill? Or did you hear of any letters read from pulpits in favor of this bill?

  9. Disagree, DD. However, it looks to me like it would make it through the House Judiciary Committee, and it would make it through either Corrections or Public Safety if John Mitchell votes to release it.

    I frankly will be more concerned if it’s assigned to the House Administration Committee.

    It will be intriguing as to where Pete assigns this bill.

  10. PainesMe says:

    Very disappointed by Nicole Poore on this one. Had higher hopes for the freshman senator after such a big lead in a very Democratic district. I think I smell some Longhurst influence here…

  11. Aoine says:

    If the GOP wants to actually Win in this state they need to take a page out of Ernie Lopez’s book.

    Not that I agree with him on many things, but kudos for someone who votes their conscience even if it means a political risk.

    The screaming right wing will never understand this, but that’s OK, for this side of the aisle. It’s such a refreshing change from the pandering and ideologues the GOP has been saddened with.

    Seems the GOP is waking up and throwing off the yoke of the far right. Issue is here, Sen Lopez really IS pro-life, on both ends of the spectrum, and that should be respected ( although I don’t agree) respectfully

  12. William F Christy says:

    I have the utmost respect for Ernie Lopez and I have spoken to him on more than one occasion at great length on issues. We spoke lst Thursday for nearly 20 minutes when we ran into each other. He is a freshman legislator, he is going to play it safe with his votes.

    Seems you are stuck on assuming the GOP is yoked down with the far right. The GOP is yoked down with old school bigotry and racism vs those who want to be conservative as it relates to the 21st century.

  13. Melbourne Born says:

    Would someone please breakdown those three coomittees and show me where any 6 pro repeal votes are? If its assigned to House administration it dies 5 to zip.

  14. AQC says:

    I’m horribly disappointed in Nicole Poore.

  15. Dana Garrett says:

    I think it’s rather cold blooded to rationalize that the murder of inmates currently on death row is justified in order to get the state to stop murdering anyone who will be convicted of first degree murder in the future. Let those who deemed this bloody amendment necessary be the ones to murder the inmates on death row. That would at least have the virtue of consistency.

  16. anon says:

    I don’t get Nicole Poore’s vote, Dori Connor would have voted for repeal.

  17. William F Christy says:

    Respectfully I believe in the death penalty, if someone murders another person their life should not be spared. In this day and age of DNA and forensic science, the argument that an innocent person might be put to death is no longer a valid argument.

    If there is irrefutable evidence (DNA etc) that a person has committed murder put them to death immediately there is no need for years of lengthy appeals.

  18. Aoine says:

    Under this rather draconian idea, all those people that were exonerated by DNA evidence after they were in prison 20 years or more, because DNA was not available when they were convicted, would have been executed.

    So, how many innocent people would that be exactly, BILLY, can y do the math?

    Therefore, it stands to reason that if we don’t have the death penalty, and someone is convicted, there may come a new technology in the future that could prove the persons innocence.

    Smooth move, ex lax. You have once again proven what an absolute idiot you are, incapable of thought or reason.

    the advent of DNA evidence means to you that the technology stops there. You have no imagination , no brains, no ability to think and no couth whatsoever, and I am so glad to have all the free time to call you on your idiocy

  19. Delaware Dem says:


    If I am faced with the choice of having the Repeal bill fail without that amendement or having the Repeal bill pass with that Amendment, I will take the latter everday of the week and twice on Sunday and sleep very very well at night. I am not a purist. I will compromise to get mostly what I want.

  20. AGovernor says:

    @Cassandra, I do not know if anyone from the Diocese of Wilmington testified, but I did not hear any letters of support read from the pulpit or even inserted in my church bulletin. I must say though that I do not regularly read the Diocesan newspaper.

    I am Catholic but the “Culture of Life” seems to be reserved for fetuses despite numerous writings from Popes and the Council of Bishops supporting ALL life. Locally and I don’t just mean Delaware little is preached from the pulpit about the Death Penalty of End of Life, treatment of immigrants, etc. It is disheartening as the Death Penalty is not in accord with Catholic Social Teaching.

    Not happy about the amendment but pleased Delaware is moving forward to abolish death as a punishment.

  21. John Kowalko III says:

    Given the amendment that was attached to the bill, I think it is important for all of us who care about this issue to call Gov. Markell and urge him to commute the current sentences of those on death row to life in prison without possibility of parole.

  22. cassandra_m says:

    Thank you, AGovernor — I know that lots of local clergy did testify in favor of repeal and was really curious about the Catholic Church’s commitment. Too bad they couldn’t have he courage of their own convictions here.

  23. Evol says:

    Nicole Poore is my Senator and when I read the voting results I was sick. I’ve written to her to question her decision and will share her response if I get one. I had written in favor of the measure, and failed to get a response from her as well. I hope this is an isolated incident.

  24. kavips says:

    One thing that must be kept in mind with Ms Poore and those other Democratic Senators who voted no.

    When your constituents routinely pick up a random bird, stuff its head upside down in a galvanized pipe, then axe off the head letting the lymph and blood drain out, just to eat…..

    Telling them that “all killing is wrong” just doesn’t fit in with their rough way of life. If you see, almost all those Senators still hanging on to the trappings that death is an incentive to prevent crime, come from areas where they decapitate their own meat…..

    Lopez as a yes vote from down south, implies he transplanted himself from the north where our poultry comes in neatly wrapped yellow Styrofoam packages…

    Of course, if you’ve never personally killed anything, then the death penalty is a horrible thing.

    In the bigger picture what this vote portends, is the balance of power in this state has crossed that very fine line tipping more towards urbanization and away from agrarian philosophy.

    We like to give our political parties the credit, but really it’s just the Census. Poore, Ennis. Hall-Long. McBride, and Venables as representatives should for the most, be voting in line with what their constituents desire, as opposed to their personal wishes…

    It is rare when a constituent stands up for moral right and goes against their district, and when they do, we laud them for it. They almost always though, lose the next election.

  25. SussexWatcher says:

    Personally, I have had to sit through a capital murder trial, and none of it was pretty. But I agreed that the death penalty was extremely appropriate. It was sad on both sides, and extremely depressing, but it transformed me from an anti-CP stance to a somewhat pro-CP stance. I dislike it, just like I dislike abortion, but there are times and circumstances when both are appropriate.

  26. DEM says:

    Ernie Lopez is my Senator, and I am surprised and pleased about his vote. Actually his district includes Lewes, which has a lot of progressives. We are not all rednecks here in Sussex.