The Corner

Kansas, Nebraska, and the Death Penalty

No prisoner has been executed in Nebraska since 1997, or in Kansas since 1965. Both states are considering bills to abolish capital punishment formally. Both of them, I hope, will enact those bills.

Princeton politics professor Robert P. George recently sent a letter to elected officials in Kansas urging them to act on their death-penalty bill, and on another bill:

Although I do not regard capital punishment to be on a moral par with the deliberate killing of innocent persons—including killing unborn babies by abortion and killing elderly or handicapped persons in euthanasia—I believe that the abolition of killing as a punishment will promote a culture of life. . . .

It is my understanding that Kansas is considering legislation to forbid certain abortions or abortion procedures, such as those that dismember children in the womb late in gestation. I think it would be salutary if in 2015 Kansas would achieve this highly commendable goal while also replacing the death penalty with the punishment of life in prison for heinous murders. Together, these steps would place Kansas in the vanguard of building a culture of life.

Perhaps interestingly, in the last four states to enact legislation abolishing the death penalty — Maryland, Connecticut, Illinois, and New Mexico — Catholic governors, all Democrats, signed the bills. Kansas and Nebraska also have Catholic governors, Republican ones.

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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