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.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Greenhouse on judicial tinkering with the machinery of death

"Still Tinkering" is the title of Linda Greenhouse's latest Opinionator column. The title derives from Justice Harry Blackmun's statement, in a dissent from denial of certiorari, that "From this day forward, I no longer shall tinker with the machinery of death."

Greenhouse's column is helpful inasmuch as it draws attention to practical and moral difficulties surrounding the administration of capital punishment. Its discussion of similarities between Oklahoma's recent botched execution and the method-of-execution challenge in Baze v. Rees, howeverseems strained. 

Details of particular Eighth Amendment challenges aside, I agree with Rick that "the decision whether to use or abandon [capital punishment], and the moral responsibility for its use and misuse, are in our hands." On that front, NBCNews.com has a story headlined "Americans Back Death Penalty By Gas or Electruction If No Needle: Poll." Of interest for readers of this blog, a related story reports that "[f]orty percent of Catholics say they're against capital punishment, double the number of evangelical or fundamentalist Christians." Perhaps some of this difference is due to moral leadership exercised by people like Archbishop Coakley.



Walsh, Kevin | Permalink