Jurisprudence that Necessarily Embodies Moral Judgment: The Eighth Amendment, Catholic Teaching, and Death Penalty Discourse
Kurt M. Denk
Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP
January 31, 2012
Notre Dame Law Review, Vol. 88, 2012-2013
Boston College Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 256
Despite obvious differences, certain historical and conceptual underpinnings of Catholic death penalty teaching parallel core elements of U.S. death penalty jurisprudence, particularly given the Supreme Court’s expansive yet contested moral reasoning in Kennedy v. Louisiana, which stressed that Eighth Amendment analysis "necessarily embodies a moral judgment." This Article compares that jurisprudence with the Catholic Church’s present, near-absolute opposition to capital punishment, assessing how the death penalty, as a quintessential law and morality question, implicates overlapping sources of moral reasoning. It then identifies substantive concepts that permit Eighth Amendment jurisprudence and the Catholic perspective to be mutually translated, presenting this approach as a means to advance death penalty discourse.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 69
Keywords: Capital Punishment, Catholic Church, Catholic Social Teaching, Catholic Social Thought, Civic Discourse, Death Penalty, Eighth Amendment, Jurisprudence, Moral Reasoning, Public DiscourseAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: February 19, 2012 ; Last revised: February 22, 2012
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