Gov. Newsom being sued for moratorium on death penalty

Written by Urvi Sakurikar

Governor Newsom has yet again managed to overstep his boundaries and is now facing a lawsuit from Dana Point lawyer and Republican activist Jim Lacy over a 2019 order that essentially placed a moratorium on California’s death penalty.

More specifically, the moratorium included halting the executions of over 700 inmates on death row, withdrawal of lethal-injection protocol, and the breakdown of the San Quentin State Prison execution chamber. 

Governor Newsom has often spoken out against capital punishment, claiming that it was discriminatory towards racial minorities and other disadvantaged groups. He even boldly proclaimed in 2019 that he “would not oversee the execution of any individual” as governor.

However, it is not within Newsom’s powers as governor to get rid of the death penalty or break down the execution chamber, and in doing so he has violated due process. It is still possible for the moratorium to be reversed by a future governor, as the death penalty is encased in state law.  

After a Sutter County court ruled that Governor Newsom was out of bounds with his decision to mandate mail-in ballots for all Californians in the November 2020 presidential election, Lacy examined past executive orders more closely and got into the death penalty moratorium. 

The lawsuit, filed by attorney Chad Morgan, details that execution standards and ability to execute is required by law and that the governor cannot pardon all death row inmates without individual consideration for all cases.

In addition, Californians voted in 2016 to speed up executions and voted against repealing the death penalty. This hindrance of the death penalty has spared several dangerous criminals from receiving punishment. For example, the Golden State Killer Joseph DeAngelo, who admitted to 13 murders and even more rapes, was instead allowed to spend his life in jail on the taxpayers’ dime. 

Governor Newsom’s policies are a violation of his designated powers and favor dangerous criminals over the people that he was elected to serve; law-abiding California voters. By halting all executions, Governor Newsom is ignoring the will of the people and instead protecting criminals and furthering his own political agenda. It is up to the people of California to hold him accountable under the law and not let him get away with blocking justice.