CNN Legal Analyst Spouts Against Death Penalty

Sunny Hostin, a legal analyst for CNN’s "American Morning," demonstrated that she could not give an objective analysis on the legality of the death penalty during a segment on Wednesday’s show. Hostin, in a response to a question asked by co-host Kiran Chetry on the future of capitol punishment in the U.S., answered, "I think, as a society, perhaps, now we're moving towards the fact that, perhaps, killing by the state is not humane at all."

This "curious" reply, which came 21 minutes into the 7 am hour of "American Morning," wasn’t the only one Hostin made during the segment. Earlier, Hostin said that "people really are suffering" during lethal injection executions.

The subject of the death penalty came up due to the Supreme Court’s decision to give a stay of execution to Earl Wesley Berry, a convicted murderer on Mississippi’s death row. Berry abducted a 56-year old grandmother named Mary Bounds as she was leaving church on November 29, 1987. He apparently planned to rape her, but instead, drove her to a forest where he beat her to death.

Hostin pointed out during the segment, "the Supreme Court really has been grappling with this issue of lethal injections, whether or not it's cruel and unusual." She later added, "If you look at the Supreme Court's sort of reasoning right now, they're grappling with not the constitutionality of the executions, but the method of execution."

At the end of the segment, Hostin endorsed a relativistic view of societal "decency."

HOSTIN: ...[I]f lethal injection is supposed to be the most humane, what are we left with? And hopefully, we're not left with anything, because cruel and unusual is sort of a swinging, changing evolution of the decency of our society, and if we can't hang people anymore, and if we don't kill people by firing squad, and now lethal injection is inhumane, perhaps our society is moving away from executions.

A full transcript of the segment from Wednesday’s "American Morning:"

KIRAN CHETRY: Moving on to another legal story -- yesterday, the Supreme Court granted a stay of execution for Mississippi killer Earl Wesley Berry. This was 15 minutes before he was scheduled to die from lethal injection. So, what does the stay mean for the future of the death penalty in the country?

SUNNY HOSTIN: This is a fascinating case, and you're right, all of the drama is there. Fifteen minutes before he was set to die, the Supreme Court issued the stay. The Supreme Court really has been grappling with this issue of lethal injections, whether or not it's cruel and unusual. We know this cocktail is now used. You have an anesthetic. You also have a muscle relax -- paralyzer. And then finally, something that stops your heart. Well, inmates are challenging that. They're saying it's very, very painful. And people forget, doctors are not performing this. Doctors can't perform executions because of their oath, and so you have medical, not medical professionals doing it, and people really are suffering. And so, I think if the Supreme Court says this is cruel and unusual, what is going to happen? We know now, no hangings, no firing squads, not really electric chair. This is supposed to be the most humane way of killing people. I think, as a society, perhaps, now we're moving towards the fact that, perhaps, killing by the state is not humane at all.

CHETRY: So, this would effectively halt executions, since lethal injection is the most common way that these execution punishments are carried out.

HOSTIN: That's right. That's right.

CHETRY: Is this political? Does this have a political tilt to it, or is this true concern about whether or not the procedure needs to be tweaked?

HOSTIN: I think it's true concern. If you look at the Supreme Court's sort of reasoning right now, they're grappling with not the constitutionality of the executions, but the method of execution. But as you mentioned, if lethal injection is supposed to be the most humane, what are we left with? And hopefully, we're not left with anything, because cruel and unusual is sort of a swinging, changing evolution of the decency of our society, and if we can't hang people anymore, and if we don't kill people by firing squad, and now lethal injection is inhumane, perhaps our society is moving away from executions.

CHETRY: Sunny Hostin, great to see you, thanks.

HOSTIN: Thank you.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center