Re: a Quibble

by Shannen W. Coffin

Ramesh, by the first point, I only meant that the determinations of the great moral issues of our day — homosexual marriage, the death penalty, abortion — are issues for which Courts are the worst arbiters. The decision of whether to allow the death penalty here is best left the legislatures and executive branches of state and federal government. I believe the “moral wisdom” that the Cardinal spoke of in his press release was the moral wisdom that the death penalty is wrong. That is simply not an issue that Justice Kennedy or any other person in a black robe is better situated than elected officials to decide. I don’t disagree that there is a morality in the law. As Alexander Bickel titled one of his great books, it is the “morality of consent.” And the courts should recognize the limits of their own authority as a matter of moral wisdom, as you say. So I don’t think we have a difference here. And on the second point, my concern is that the Church recognize that consistency of position is as important to achieving their objectives as is the content of that position. Their complaint should be directed at the legislatures, not the court. And if directed at the court, it should be simply a request that the courts stay out of it.

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