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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

And the Profile in Courage should go to ... Senator Rodney Ellis


"The Texas Senate on Tuesday passed its version of "Jessica's Law," a get-tough measure on sexual predators that includes a possible death penalty for those who are twice convicted of raping children under 14", reports the AP.

As soon as I read the news that Senator Rodney Ellis was the lone person to vote against "Jessica's Law" in the senate because it expanded the death penalty, I thought of the book "Profiles in Courage". Turns out, in addition to the book, there is an actual annual award.

Given his safe district, I doubt if Ellis' career is at risk because of this vote, although you could argue that it is a courageous vote if he has any statewide ambitions. Maybe someone should nominate Sen. Ellis for next year's award. How to Submit a Nomination.

More from the AP story:

Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, the only dissenter in the 30-1 vote, questioned whether the state should expand death row at a time when post-conviction DNA testing has exonerated people who went to prison for crimes they did not commit.

Just two weeks ago, the Senate hosted two men who served 27 years in prison for sexual assault but were later cleared by DNA testing.

"All of us have to make tough choices, but at some point we have to decide where do we draw the line on something that's politically right but morally wrong," Ellis said. "I'm for the death penalty, but I think it would be nice if we had a system where we got the right one."
President John F. Kennedy’s 1957 Pulitzer prize-winning book, "Profiles in Courage", recounts the stories of eight U.S. Senators who risked their careers by taking principled stands for unpopular positions.

According to the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation
The Profile in Courage Award seeks to make Americans aware of the conscientious and courageous acts of their public servants, and to encourage elected officials to choose principles over partisanship – to do what is right, rather than what is expedient.

The award is presented annually to a public official or officials at the federal, state or local level whose actions best demonstrate the qualities of political courage described in Profiles in Courage.

The Profile in Courage Award is administered by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. A distinguished bipartisan committee named by the Foundation reviews all nominations, and selects the recipient or recipients of the award.

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