Commentary

News site is charitable in calling Berger and Moore’s death penalty accusation “mostly false”

As was explained in a December Policy Watch radio commentary, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore were ridiculously off-base with their recent claim that Gov. Roy Cooper and Attorney General Josh Stein are somehow responsible for the ongoing moratorium on the death penalty in North Carolina.

As the commentary pointed out:

“The responsibility there lies with a flawed death penalty law that courts have found to be unconstitutional on multiple occasions and that is obsolete, discriminatory, wastefully expensive, and impossible to apply fairly.”

Now, happily, the News & Observer website PolitiFact has weighed in on the Berger-Moore claim. An article posted yesterday on the site concludes this way:

“In the Dec. 8 joint statement with Moore, Berger said Cooper and Stein oppose the death penalty and have used ‘every legal trick possible – including inaction – to delay death sentences.’ Berger’s office provided no evidence showing that Cooper and Stein have sided with death penalty opponents in court. Rather, Berger pointed to Stein’s vote on one bill and, in a vague claim, said the duo should’ve pressured the courts to expedite their review of death penalty cases.

It’s fair to criticize how Cooper and Stein spend their resources and tie Stein to the Racial Justice Act. But those arguments alone don’t prove that they oppose the death penalty or have used legal ‘tricks’ to delay executions. We rate this claim Mostly False.”

If anything, the PolitiFact conclusion is extremely charitable to Berger and Moore. It’s actually not fair to criticize Cooper or Stein for how they spend their resources in these matters or knock Stein for his support of the Racial Justice Act since a) the state death penalty law is unfair and unconstitutional, b) the RJA was actually an attempt to address those problems and c) lawmakers have done everything within their power over the past year to slash the funds available to both Cooper and Stein.

A more accurate rating for the Berger-Moore claim would be “Complete Baloney.”

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