“'The substantial risk of putting an innocent man to death clearly provides an adequate justification for holding an evidentiary hearing,' Justice John Paul Stevens wrote.
But Antonin Scalia, joined in the minority by Clarence Thomas, was unconvinced and unmoved.
'This Court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is ‘actually’ innocent. Quite to the contrary, we have repeatedly left that question unresolved, while expressing considerable doubt that any claim based on alleged ‘actual innocence’ is constitutionally cognizable.'”
Scalia’s fellow justices noted that his position allows no legal avenue for even an obviously innocent person to have his or her case heard.
There are judges and prosecutors across the country who feel it is perfectly acceptable to imprison and even execute innocent people as long as the accused parties had their day in court. They entirely miss the point that the judicial process is intended to discover the truth of a matter and bring justice. Justice is never served by ignoring evidence of a convicted person's innocence because it arrived late or because reversing a wrongful conviction would be inconvenient to a prosecutor's career, costly to prison profiteers, or burdensome to the court process.
~Is contrary to, or has involved an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States; or
~Has resulted in a decision that was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the state court proceeding.
It generally, but not absolutely, barred second or successive petitions, with several exceptions. Petitioners who had already filed a federal habeas petition were required first to secure authorization from the appropriate United States Court of Appeals, to ensure that such an exception was at least facially made out."