Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Human Dignity, the Death Penalty, and Abortion

If I were a member of Louisiana's legislature, I would vote to repeal that state's laws that permit the death penalty for rape of a child. (As an opponent of the death penalty, I would vote to repeal all laws permitting the death penalty).  I would, however, be unhappy with the Supreme Court for taking that decision from the people of Louisiana because I am not persuaded by the reasoning in Kennedy v. Louisiana.  Exploring the reasons for these two positions may be for another day.

Here, I want to mention two sentences in the majority opinion.  Echoing (if memory serves me) the death penalty dissents of Justices Marshall and Brennan, Justice Kennedy writes:  "Evolving standards of decency must embrace and express respect for the dignity of the person, and the punishment of criminals must conform to that rule" (Slip op. at 9) and "It is an established principle that decency, in its essence, presumes respect for the individual and thus moderation or restraint in the application of capital punishment" (Id. at 25).

I pray that the Court uses this same logic in future abortion cases. 

I sometimes feel like I'm in Wonderland with Alice.  In this strange land, state legislatures are prohibited in the name of human dignity from putting those who commit heinous crimes to death.  And, those same legislators are prohibited (in the name of a false notion of dignity?) from protecting the most innocent, weak, and vulnerable human beings. 


Scaperlanda, Mike | Permalink

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