The Corner

Law & the Courts

Justice Barrett and the Death Penalty

The justice’s critics hit her coming and going. Because she collaborated on a law-review article that argued, 22 years ago, that Catholic judges might have to recuse themselves from certain types of death-penalty cases, progressives (and the odd conservative) portrayed her as a theocrat. Now she is being criticized for allegedly flouting Catholic teaching by allowing an execution to go forward.

The article develops a nuanced view, arguing, for example, that a judge who considers the death penalty immoral need have no qualms about ruling that the Constitution allows states to impose it. This view seems to me not only defensible, but broadly correct — and considerably better thought-through than anything her critics have come up with.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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