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Gingrich Supported The Death Penalty For Drug Smuggling

This past weekend on MSNBC, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson highlighted something about Newt Gingrich that I'd never heard before:



Foreal? Newt Gingrich supported the idea that people bringing drugs into the United States should be put to death?

And sure enough, there it is at the Library of Congress:
HR 4170 IH

104th CONGRESS
2d Session

H. R. 4170
To provide a sentence of death for certain importations of significant quantities of controlled substances.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
September 25, 1996


Mr. GINGRICH introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, and in addition to the Committee on Commerce, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned

A BILL
To provide a sentence of death for certain importations of significant quantities of controlled substances.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the `Drug Importer Death Penalty Act of 1996'.

SEC. 2. INCREASED PENALTIES FOR INTERNATIONAL DRUG TRAFFICKING.

Section 1010 of the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act (21 U.S.C. 960) is amended by adding at the end the following:
`(e)(1) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the court shall sentence a person convicted of a violation of subsection (a), consisting of bringing into the United States a mixture or substance--
`(A) which is described in subsection (b)(1); and
`(B) in an amount the Attorney General by rule has determined is equal to 100 usual dosage amounts of such mixture or substance;
to imprisonment for life without possibility of release. If the defendant has violated this subsection on more than one occasion and the requirements of chapter 228 of title 18, United States Code, are satisfied, the court shall sentence the defendant to death.
`(2) The maximum fine that otherwise may be imposed, but for this subsection, shall not be reduced by operation of this subsection.'

SEC. 3. CONFORMING AMENDMENTS TO TITLE 18, UNITED STATES CODE.

(a) INCLUSION OF OFFENSE- Section 3591(b) of title 18, United States Code, is amended--
(1) by striking `or' at the end of paragraph (1);
(2) by striking the comma at the end of paragraph (2) and inserting `; or' at the end of paragraph (2); and
(3) by inserting after paragraph (2) the following:
`(3) an offense described in section 1010(e)(1) of the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act;'
(b) ADDITIONAL AGGRAVATING FACTOR- Section 3592(d) of title 18, United States Code, is amended by inserting after paragraph (8) the following:
`(9) SECOND IMPORTATION OFFENSE- The offense consisted of a second or subsequent violation of section 1010(a) of the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act consisting of bringing a controlled substance into the United States.'.
Wow. Conor Friedersdorf makes a great point:
More noteworthy still is what actually sponsoring a bill like this says about Gingrich's moral compass. For him, exercising the most extreme, irreversible, and morally fraught power that the state possesses -- the power to kill someone -- is appropriate as a punishment for a nonviolent crime.

This insufficient regard for the sanctity of human life and willingness to pander with the death penalty is problematic enough when exhibited by a powerful legislator. Electing a president with that mindset is terrifying, especially now that President Obama has recklessly set the precedent for secret extrajudicial kill orders to be issue by the executive branch. Though Gingrich still insists the War on Drugs should be fought more aggressively, it is admittedly unlikely that drug smugglers would be executed by the federal government were he elected. At the same time, it's extraordinary likely that he'll make judgment calls about officially sanctioned killings and appropriate punishments for transgressions against the law. Do Republicans really want to trust those decisions to a man who once tried to apply the death penalty to marijuana smugglers?
My emphasis.

To Mr. Friedersdorf's last question: yes. Right now it appears that Republican want to trust this type of a decision to Newt Gingrich. Next week? Who knows...