The Corner

Stem Cells and The Death Penalty

William Saletan notes that President Bush argues against embryo-destroying research on the ground that we should not take some lives to save others, but argues for capital punishment on the ground that taking murderers’ lives will save others. I think Saletan’s basic point is sound. President Bush is wrong to suggest that deterrence can by itself justify the death penalty. It can’t make just an otherwise unjust policy (although, assuming the death penalty is compatible with justice, it can strengthen the case for it). My only criticism of Saletan’s article is the subheadline (for which he may not be responsible), which says that Bush is guilty of “hypocrisy” when he’s merely guilty of inconsistency.

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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