The U.S. Supreme Court did the right thing by keeping Robert Alton Harris alive until it can be determined whether his rights have been violated (Part A, April 3). This seems more logical than Atty. Gen. John Van de Kamp's policy, which is to execute the man now and consider his rights later.
No major candidate for statewide office has shown the courage or leadership to ignore the public-opinion polls and call for abolition of the death penalty, but Van de Kamp came close when he called the practice immoral. That he considers it his constitutional duty as attorney general to enforce even immoral laws is an arguable point, but when he boasts of packing death row with candidates for the gas chamber he begins to sound like a man at war with himself. Can anyone who feels strongly about this issue support his gubernatorial ambitions with much enthusiasm?
There is a subtle but real difference between California Republicans and Democrats today as we consider the return to executions after nearly a quarter of a century. Republicans really love the death penalty, as their ancestors loved the simple joys of the hunt. Democrats, being more sensitive souls, shrink from killing for sport; they take the moral high ground and kill only for votes.
PAUL SARGENT CLARK