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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

Abstract:     
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 Discourse

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Date posted: February 19, 2012 ; Last revised: February 22, 2012

Suggested Citation

Denk, Kurt M., Jurisprudence that Necessarily Embodies Moral Judgment: The Eighth Amendment, Catholic Teaching, and Death Penalty Discourse (January 31, 2012). Notre Dame Law Review, Vol. 88, 2012-2013; Boston College Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 256. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2007613

Contact Information

Kurt M. Denk (Contact Author)
Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP ( email )
1177 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10036
United States
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