Kurt M. Denk, S.J. (Boston College Law School) has posted Jurisprudence that Necessarily Embodies Moral Judgment: The Eighth Amendment, Catholic Teaching, and Death Penalty Discourse. The abstract follows.
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.