While Republicans are seeking multiple ways to reinstate the death penalty so that they can demonstrate how flagrantly false their devotion to pro-life policies really is, several Democrats are sponsoring a Constitutional Amendment to the Delaware Constitution to prohibit the imposition of the death penalty.
The bill will likely not pass this session, for the simple reason that constitutional amendments require a two thirds majority vote of both houses. And right now, the votes just aren’t there. Let’s break it down. In 2017, the Democratic House passed a Death Penalty Restoration Bill by a vote of 24-16. Way too many Democrats voted for it. So here are the recorded votes:
YES (for death penalty) – Briggs King, Carson, Collins, D.Short, Dukes, Gray, Hensley, Hudson, Jaques, Kenton, Longhurst, Melanie G. Smith, Mitchell, Mulrooney, Osienski, Outten, Paradee, Postles, Q.Johnson, Schwartzkopf, Smyk, Spiegelman, Wilson, Yearick
NO (against the death penalty) – B.Short, Baumbach, Bennett, Bentz, Bolden, Brady, Heffernan, J.Johnson, K.Williams, Keeley, Kowalko, Lynn, Matthews, Miro, Potter, Viola
ABSENT – Ramone
Melanie George Smith has been replaced by Kendra Johnson, who is sponsoring the death penalty ban. Likewise, Mike Mulrooney has been replaced for Melissa Minor Brown, also a sponsor. Joe Miro, the lone Republican no vote in 2017, was replaced by Mike Smith, who might be a pro-death penalty vote. Krista Griffith replaced Deborah Hudson, so that might be a no vote replacing a yes. Trey Paradee got promoted to the Senate, but my guess is that his replacement, Bill Bush, also supports the death penalty. And we have to assume Mike Ramone supports the death penalty.
So if a pro-death penalty bill hits the floor of the House, it is likely that will pass 22-19. So there are maybe 19 anti-death penalty votes in the House. We will need at least 28 votes to pass a constitutional amendment to ban it.
In the Senate, I think we can assume that Democrats Trey Paradee and Bruce Ennis are yes votes on the death penalty, and I have heard that Republicans Cathy Cloutier and Ernie Lopez are opposed to the death penalty. So a Senate vote would be a positive 12-9, but we need 14 yes votes to pass a constitutional amendment.
But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t run this bill this session (whenever this session resumes). It is good to get our Representatives and Senators on the record.
WHERE IS HB305 NOW? House Judiciary 3/12/2020
DEMOCRATIC SPONSORS – Lynn, Townsend, McBride, Longhurst, Baumbach, Dorsey Walker, Lockman, McDowell, Sokola, Sturgeon, Bentz, Chukwuocha, K.Johnson, Kowalko, Matthews, Minor-Brown, Seigfried
REPUBLICAN SPONSORS – None
- YES VOTES – SENATE – /// HOUSE –
- NO VOTES – SENATE – /// HOUSE –
- ABSENT –
- NOT VOTING –