October 19th, 2011
Nashville’s The City Paper reported Monday that forty-five faculty members of various disciplines at Belmont University have signed an open letter stating that they oppose torture, back constitutional freedoms, and disagree with the “indiscriminate and hasty use” of the death penalty.
Although the letter does not make reference to one of the newest faculty members at Belmont, former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, it is believed to have been prompted by his recent appointment as the Doyle Rogers Distinguished Chair at the university’s law school. Gonzales has been widely criticized for his support of torturous interrogation techniques like sleep deprivation and waterboarding and for denying the constitutional right of habeas corpus.
Additionally, as former legal counsel to then Texas Governor George W. Bush, Gonzales prepared numerous confidential death penalty memoranda for Bush’s review, which were the governor’s primary source of information in deciding whether an inmate would live or die. It later came out that these documents left out critical information about the cases such as ineffective counsel, conflict of interest, mitigating circumstances, and evidence proving innocence.
TADP applauds the Belmont faculty and staff for speaking out about these important issues. Their voices join the growing chorus made up of diverse individuals and groups who are vocalizing their concerns about the use of the death penalty. Their public dissent is a testament to the reality that opposition to the death penalty is growing across religious, ideological, and political boundaries, both nationwide and here in Tennessee.
Photo by Paul Chenoweth