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Thursday, July 02, 2009

Conservative Reasoning Against the Death Penalty by Richard Viguerie

From Soujourners magazine, Richard A. Viguerie, one of the nation's most prominent conservatives, explains why he opposes the death penalty:

"The fact is, I don’t understand why more conservatives don’t oppose the death penalty. It is, after all, a system set up under laws established by politicians (too many of whom lack principles); enforced by prosecutors (many of whom want to become politicians—perhaps a character flaw?—and who prefer wins over justice); and adjudicated by judges (too many of whom administer personal preference rather than the law).

"Conservatives have every reason to believe the death penalty system is no different from any politicized, costly, inefficient, bureaucratic, government-run operation, which we conservatives know are rife with injustice. But here the end result is the end of someone’s life. In other words, it’s a government system that kills people.
and
The death penalty system is flawed and untrustworthy because human institutions always are. But even when guilt is certain, there are many downsides to the death penalty system. I’ve heard enough about the pain and suffering of families of victims caused by the long, drawn-out, and even intrusive legal process. Perhaps, then, it’s time for America to re-examine the death penalty system, whether it works, and whom it hurts.

"On how society would ever get to the point of abolishing the death penalty, if it were to do that, I have my conservative views. It must be done in a way consistent with our constitutional system. That means it cannot be imposed by the courts or by the federal government (except for federal cases). In my opinion, the Constitution does not grant the federal government the authority to ban the death penalty in the states. That must be left to the people’s representatives in their respective states, which also means that judges must not take it upon themselves.

"This is why I am joining my friend Jim Wallis in a coalition of liberals and conservatives calling for a national moratorium and conversation about the death penalty, so people can study, learn, think, pray if they wish, about whether or how the various state death-penalty systems should be changed. I hope you’ll join us".

Richard A. Viguerie has been called “one of the creators of the modern conservative movement” by The Nation magazine.

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1 comment:

dudleysharp said...

Mr. Viguerie makes a very weak argument for repeal of the death penalty.

1) Mr. Viguerie writes: "I’m a Catholic. Because of my Christian faith, and because I am a follower of Jesus Christ, I oppose the death penalty."

Sharp replies: There is no conflict with Catholic/Christian faith and support for the death penalty. There has been nearly 2000 years of biblical, theological, traditional and rational support for the death penalty within the Catholic Church. Even today, a Catholic in good standing can support the death penalty and an increase in executions, based upon their own prudential judgement. I would ask Mr. Viguerie to review the requirements of his faith, re the death penalty.

see "Death Penalty Support: Modern Catholic Scholars"
http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2009/07/death-penalty-support-modern-catholic.html


2) Mr. Viguerie "I’m a conservative as well, and because my political philosophy recognizes that government is too often used by humans for the wrong ends, I find it quite logical to oppose capital punishment."

Sharp replies: Because some seek any goal for the wrong ends, doesn't mean that the death penalty is not sought, most often, for honorable ends , the just and appropriate sentence for the crime committed. As Mr. Viguerie does not have a case for an opposite finding, he gives no support for ending the death penalty, with this statement.

3) Mr. Viguerie: "The fact is, I don’t understand why more conservatives don’t oppose the death penalty. It is, after all, a system set up under laws established by politicians (too many of whom lack principles); enforced by prosecutors (many of whom want to become politicians—perhaps a character flaw?—and who prefer wins over justice); and adjudicated by judges (too many of whom administer personal preference rather than the law)."

Sharp replies: Mr. Viguerie, the same arguments can be used against all legal sanctions. You provide nor argument or evidence that the death penalty is not, most often sought and given by honorable persons for honorable reasons. Furthermore, 80% of US citizens support the death penalty for true, capital, death penalty eligible murders. Again, Mr. Viguerie provides no foundation to oppose the death penalty, with his statement.

4) Mr. Viguerie: "Conservatives have every reason to believe the death penalty system is no different from any politicized, costly, inefficient, bureaucratic, government-run operation, which we conservatives know are rife with injustice. But here the end result is the end of someone’s life. In other words, it’s a government system that kills people."

Sharp replies: Yes, they do.

A) Costly/inefficient: Rebuttal. Virginia executes in 5-7 years. 65% of those sentenced to death have been executed. Only 15% of their death penalty cases are overturned. With the high costs of long term imprisonment, a true life sentence will be more expensive than such a death penalty protocol. Therefore, again, Mr. Viguerie does not provide a solid reason to oppose capital punishment. Improve the system in other states.

See: "Cost Savings: The Death Penalty" http://homicidesurvivors.com/2009/05/07/cost-savings-the-death-penalty.aspx

B) Injustice: Rebuttal. Of all the government programs in the world, that put innocents at risk, is there one with a safer record and with greater protections than the US death penalty? Unlikely. Therefore, this may be the least likely government program to end, based upon Mr. Viguerie's reasoning.

See "The Death Penalty: More Protection for Innocents"
http://homicidesurvivors.com/2009/07/05/the-death-penalty-more-protection-for-innocents.aspx

and

"Death Penalty, Deterrence & Murder Rates: Let's be clear"
http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2009/03/death-penalty-deterrence-murder-rates.html

Mr. Viguerie, a very weak case, indeed, for death penalty opposition.