From NYT via The Volokh Conspiracy:
After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Chicago in 1941, Stevens [U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice, John Paul Stevens] enlisted in the Navy on Dec. 6, 1941, hours before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. He later won a bronze star for his service as a cryptographer, after he helped break the code that informed American officials that Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto, the commander of the Japanese Navy and architect of the Pearl Harbor attack, was about to travel to the front. Based on the code-breaking of Stevens and others, U.S. pilots, on Rooseveltâ€™s orders, shot down Yamamotoâ€™s plane in April 1943.
Stevens told me [Jeffrey Rosen, NYT] he was troubled by the fact that Yamamoto, a highly intelligent officer who had lived in the United States and become friends with American officers, was shot down with so little apparent deliberation or humanitarian consideration. The experience, he said, raised questions in his mind about the fairness of the death penalty. â€śI was on the desk, on watch, when I got word that they had shot down Yamamoto in the Solomon Islands, and I remember thinking: This is a particular individual they went out to intercept,â€ť he said. â€śThere is a very different notion when youâ€™re thinking about killing an individual, as opposed to killing a soldier in the line of fire.â€ť Stevens said that, partly as a result of his World War II experience, he has tried on the court to narrow the category of offenders who are eligible for the death penalty and to ensure that it is imposed fairly and accurately. He has been the most outspoken critic of the death penalty on the current court. [Bold added: ED.]
Still believe SCOTUS makes decisions based on our Constitution? Can’t you just smell the elitism of the arrogant asshole? He tells us that plain old soldiers are nothing but cannon fodder. Furthermore, sez he, smart people are different. They deserve special consideration no matter what crimes they commit.