“And if a state makes a decision that under narrow, limited, well-defined circumstances the death penalty is at least potentially applicable, that does not violate our Constitution.”
I think his answer was actually very non-committal - leave the door open, but make sure the entrance is blocked. Politically wise.
It's a tough question, for me anyway. I've gone back and forth on the death penalty issue more times than I can count. But if a case involves the personal desecration or death of a child, it invokes a visceral reaction in me blocking all reasonable thought or willingness to hear reasonable arguments. My first thought is to let a loved one of that child have at it, no questions asked.
It may not be the way of a "civilized" society, but....
If you fall down 10 times, Stand up 11.