Center for Ethics and Leadership

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Wise Limit to Capital Punishment

In a very close decision, 5-4, the Supreme Court has ruled Louisiana's law providing capital punishment for child rape unconstitutional. It is a decision both courageous and wise. As the court pointed out, there is a distinction between homicidal and non-homicidal crimes. Both presidential candidates disagreed with the decision, as did Louisiana's governor, Bobby Jindal. The four dissenting judges, Justices Alito, Roberts, Scalia, and Thomas, are all Catholic, as is Governor Jindal. The American Catholic bishops issued a document rejecting capital punishment in 1983.


  • It's not every day that I find myself in agreement with the Catholic bishops and even rarer when the Supreme Court joins us, but I completely support this decision.

    Thankfully, Justice Kennedy is swinging the correct way on some of these cases.

    Although, I'm not categorically opposed to the death penalty. I find the court's reasoning correct in this case.

    Since so much abuse of young children is at the hands of family members, it would be a terrible to add, to the already tragic abuse, the responsibility of a death in the family.

    There is a reason that criminal prosecutions are not brought in the name of the victim, but in the name of the state.

    In my work, I sometimes come in contact with victims of domestic abuse who wish to drop charges against their abusers. The state is correct in sometimes refusing to drop the charges, since it represents our collective interest in keeping order.

    But where the penalty is so high and the damage to the life of so young a victim so great - the state should not put it's collective outrage to the forefront.

    It's hard to imagine that the 4 dissenting justices saw the equities so differently.

    A change in the White House can't happen soon enough. I only hope that a Democrat present learns at least one lesson from George Bush - appoint young justices...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At June 27, 2008 2:55 PM  

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