Harry Blackmun: Dissent in Callins v. Collins


In June of 1980, Bruce Edwin Callins was convicted of murder in the shooting death of Allen Huckleberry in a Dallas bar during the course of a robbery. In February of 1994, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Callins v. Collins that they would not hear Callins’s petition for the Court to review the appeal of his death penalty conviction. In his dissent, Harry Blackmun took the occasion to state that, after thirty-five years of deciding capital appeals, he had come to believe that the death penalty was entirely unconstitutional. He famously remarked that he would “no longer shall tinker with the machinery of death.” Callins was executed in May 1997.

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Harry Blackmun (Library of Congress)

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