Non-profit

8th Amendment Project

Formation:

2014

Type:

Targeted Litigation Group

Project of:

Center for Death Penalty Litigation (since 2018)

Proteus Fund (until 2018)

The 8th Amendment Project is a “strategic and targeted campaign” that works to abolish the death penalty in the United States.[1] It is organized as a fiscally sponsored project of the North Carolina-based Center for Death Penalty Litigation.[2] It is currently led by its co-founder and executive director, Henderson Hill.

The group works to bring litigation through the federal court system to the U.S. Supreme Court that would declare the death penalty unconstitutional.[3]

Overview

The 8th Amendment Project is a fiscally sponsored project of the Center for Death Penalty Litigation (CDPL), an organization which conducts legal advocacy on behalf of North Carolina capital defendants.[4] Prior to 2018, the Project was part of the Themis Fund’s Death Penalty Abolition Campaign. The Themis Fund is an initiative of the Proteus Fund, a left-wing pass-through funding entity.[5]

Through CDPL, the 8th Amendment Project works with other left-wing groups in North Carolina such as the Blueprint NC Network.[6] It was previously a member of the Blueprint NC Network, but is currently no longer listed as a partner organization.[7] CDPL has received substantial funding from two left-wing foundations, the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation and the Tides Foundation.[8]

History

In May 2014, Themis Fund launched the 8th Amendment Project. According to Buzzfeed, the project has the goal of laying the foundation for a challenge at the U.S. Supreme Court. Activists were spurred to prepare outright challenges to capital punishment by comments made by Supreme Court Justices Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who suggested a willingness to rule the death penalty unconstitutional. [9]

The project was transferred from the Themis Fund to the Center for Death Penalty Litigation in January  2018. [10]

Programs

The eventual goal of the 8th Amendment Project is to take a case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court that will strike down the death penalty. In anticipation of a more favorable future Court, the project has sought to advocate against capital punishment through public speaking and internet advertising.

The Project has also engaged in direct advocacy to public officials. In March 2017, Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala (D) declared that she would not pursue capital punishment in any cases. She claimed that she came to the decision after months of research. But a local TV station investigated her emails and found that she had been emailed talking points from anti-death penalty groups, including the 8th Amendment Project.[11]

Among those who emailed Ayala was then-8th Amendment Project communications director Stefanie Faucher. Faucher emailed her talking points such as “the death penalty traps victims’ families in a decades-long cycle of uncertainty, court hearings and waiting.” Rob Smith, a cofounder of the Project, was also in communication with Ayala.[12]

People

The 8th Amendment Project was co-founded by attorney and activist Henderson Hill and Harvard Law School professor Robert Smith.[13] Smith served as Litigation Director for the group. He is also a fellow at the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School and currently serves as executive director of the Fair Punishment Project.[14]

Hill founded and served as the first executive director of the Center for Death Penalty Litigation, a non-profit law firm that provides direct representation to capital defendants, in 1995.[15] He continued to serve on its board of directors after he left the organization.

According to Federal Election Commission records, Hill is a donor to liberal politicians and the Democratic Party. In 2012, he gave $634 to President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign. He also gave $250 to the Congressional campaign of Charlotte politician Jennifer Roberts (D-N.C.). At the time, Hill was working as the Executive Director of Federal Defenders of Western North Carolina. [16]

Starting in the 2016 election cycle, Hill began to be a monthly contributor to both the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He donated $100 and $25 per month respectively to the campaign committees. He gave U.S. Senate candidate Deborah Ross (D-NC) $500 and U.S. Senate candidate Andrea Zopp (D-IL) $250. Both women lost their respective races.[17]

Also on staff at the group was Stefanie Faucher who served as Communications Director. Previously, Faucher worked for liberal activist group MoveOn.org. [18]

References

  1. Hill, Henderson. “Announcing the 8th Amendment Project.” Themis Fund. May 23, 2014. Accessed June 15, 2018. http://temp-proteusfund.gaiahost.net/themis/news/announcing-8th-amendment-project.
  2. “8Th Amendment Project – The Center For Death Penalty Litigation”. 2018. The Center For Death Penalty Litigation. Accessed June 15. http://www.cdpl.org/our-work/8th-amendment-project/.
  3. Geidner, Chris. “The Most Ambitious Effort Yet To Abolish The Death Penalty Is Already Happening.” BuzzFeed. November 8, 2015. Accessed June 15, 2018. https://www.buzzfeed.com/chrisgeidner/the-most-ambitious-effort-yet-to-abolish-the-death-penalty-i?utm_term=.gqQo6OXr9#.whrL3YOeM.
  4. “About.” The Center for Death Penalty Litigation. Accessed June 15, 2018. http://www.cdpl.org/about/.
  5. “Announcing The 8Th Amendment Project | Themis Fund”. 2014. Temp-Proteusfund.Gaiahost.Net. http://temp-proteusfund.gaiahost.net/themis/news/announcing-8th-amendment-project.
  6.   “Center For Death Penalty Litigation – Mapping The Left”. 2018. Mapping The Left. Accessed June 15. https://www.mappingtheleft.com/group/center-for-death-penalty-litigation/.
  7.     “Partners”. 2018. Blueprint NC. Accessed June 15. http://www.blueprintnc.org/partners/.
  8. Center For Death Penalty Litigation – Mapping The Left”. 2018. Mapping The Left. Accessed June 15. https://www.mappingtheleft.com/group/center-for-death-penalty-litigation/
  9. Geidner, Chris. “The Most Ambitious Effort Yet To Abolish The Death Penalty Is Already Happening.” BuzzFeed. November 8, 2015. Accessed June 15, 2018. https://www.buzzfeed.com/chrisgeidner/the-most-ambitious-effort-yet-to-abolish-the-death-penalty-i?utm_term=.gqQo6OXr9#.whrL3YOeM.
  10. “8Th Amendment Project – The Center For Death Penalty Litigation”. 2018. The Center For Death Penalty Litigation. Accessed June 15. http://www.cdpl.org/our-work/8th-amendment-project/.
  11.      Sutton, Field. “9 Investigates: Emails Show Months of Collaboration between Aramis Ayala, Anti-death Penalty Groups.” WFTV. April 19, 2017. Accessed June 15, 2018. https://www.wftv.com/news/9-investigates/9-investigates-emails-show-months-of-collaboration-between-aramis-ayala-anti-death-penalty-groups/514259617.
  12. Sutton, Field. “9 Investigates: Emails Show Months of Collaboration between Aramis Ayala, Anti-death Penalty Groups.” WFTV. April 19, 2017. Accessed June 15, 2018. https://www.wftv.com/news/9-investigates/9-investigates-emails-show-months-of-collaboration-between-aramis-ayala-anti-death-penalty-groups/514259617.
  13. Geitner, Chris. 2015. “The Most Ambitious Effort Yet To Abolish The Death Penalty Is Already Happening”. Buzzfeed. https://www.buzzfeed.com/chrisgeidner/the-most-ambitious-effort-yet-to-abolish-the-death-penalty-i?utm_term=.smwmxmgMV#.vaJnPne29.
  14. “About Us”. 2018. Fair Punishment Project. Accessed June 15. http://fairpunishment.org/about-us/.
  15. Geitner, Chris. 2015. “The Most Ambitious Effort Yet To Abolish The Death Penalty Is Already Happening”. Buzzfeed. https://www.buzzfeed.com/chrisgeidner/the-most-ambitious-effort-yet-to-abolish-the-death-penalty-i?utm_term=.smwmxmgMV#.vaJnPne29.
  16. Federal Election Commission “Browse Individual Contributions – FEC.Gov”. 2018. FEC.Gov. Accessed June 15. https://www.fec.gov/data/receipts/individual-contributions/?two_year_transaction_period=2012&contributor_name=Henderson+Hill&min_date=01%2F01%2F2011&max_date=12%2F31%2F2012&contributor_state=NC.
  17. Federal Election Commission “Browse Individual Contributions – FEC.Gov”. 2018. FEC.Gov. Accessed June 15. https://www.fec.gov/data/receipts/individual-contributions/?two_year_transaction_period=2016&contributor_name=Henderson+Hill&min_date=01%2F01%2F2015&max_date=12%2F31%2F2016&contributor_state=NC.
  18. “Stefanie Faucher, Author At Moveon.Org | Democracy In Action”. 2018. Moveon.Org | Democracy In Action. Accessed June 15. https://front.moveon.org/author/stefanie/.
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