NADP entered the 2013 legislative session with a calm, cool plan of continuing the long-term dialogue about the death penalty with Senators in Lincoln. Working with bill sponsor, Senator Ernie Chambers, we set out to meet the freshmen and ensure that veteran Senators heard from you, the many repeal supporters from around the state.
It was no surprise to us that our hearing in front of the Judiciary Committee went so well; after all, we know the truth is on our side. Little did we know it would lead to a 7-0 vote and an overwhelming show of support from Senators across the political spectrum.
With your help, we ramped up our efforts and worked with our allies in the Unicameral to mount a full-scale effort to push for repeal. The debate that we saw in the Unicameral on May 13th and 14th was exciting and encouraging. Our supporters’ arguments were persuasive, energetic and factual; several legislators who had supported the death penalty in previous years moved into the repeal camp. The arguments supporting the failed death penalty system seemed hollow and desperate.
It became increasingly apparent that we had won the necessary 25 votes to pass repeal of the death penalty in Nebraska. But our opponents were aware of this as well, and they launched a filibuster to prevent a vote from being taken. We needed 33 votes to overcome the filibuster and force a vote; we had 28, thus preventing an up or down vote on repeal.
Although the outcome was disappointing, the process was invigorating. It is clear we now have a majority, and the filibuster was a desperate, last ditch effort to ignore the writing on the wall and delay the end of this failed public policy. But it was just delay, because the death penalty is coming to an end in Nebraska and everyone knows it.
With your continued help, we will soon join the ranks of those states that have ended the death penalty.