September 26, 2020

THE SEAMLESS CASE FOR RECUSING HERSELF:

Catholic Judges in Capital Cases (Amy Coney Barrett, John H. Garvey, 81 Marq. L. Rev. 303 1997-1998)

To anticipate our conclusions just briefly, we believe that Catholic judges (if they are faithful to the teaching of their church) are morally precluded from enforcing the death penalty. This means that they can neither themselves sentence criminals to death nor enforce jury recommendations of death. Whether they may affirm lower court orders of either kind is a question we have the most difficulty in resolving. There are parts of capital cases in which we think orthodox Catholic judges may participate-these include trial on the issue of guilt and collateral review of capital convictions. The moral impossibility of enforcing capital punishment in the first two or three cases (sentencing, enforcing jury recommendations, affirming) is a sufficient reason for recusal under federal law.  [...]

In modem Catholic teaching, capital punishment is often condemned along with other practices whose point is the taking of lifeabortion, euthanasia, nuclear war, and murder itself. It is sometimes said that consistency requires no less-that respect for life in all these cases is a seamless garment. [...]

Judges cannot-nor should they try to-align our legal system with the Church's moral teaching whenever the two diverge. They should, however, conform their own behavior to the Church's standard. Perhaps their good example will have some effect.

Handmaid, meet petard.
Posted by at September 26, 2020 8:40 AM

  

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