And there’s this.
The Supreme Court of the United States – presently with all the seats filled (thanks to Pres. Trump and the GOP lead Senate) – has allowed the execution of a convicted rapist murderer. The sentence was carried out. Bryer, Sotomayor and Kagan dissented. HERE
That led to this on Twitter.
Jesuit homosexualist James Martin attacked Catholic Justice Amy Coney Barrett. Laura Ingraham (quondam SCOTUS clerk) responded.
This liberal pundit/cleric is both wrong on the substance and wrong in implicitly urging Catholic justices to follow the Pope instead of the Constitution and precedent. https://t.co/qigwjPP8kZ https://t.co/6Obynicy7c
— Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) November 20, 2020
Justice Barrett co-authored an article in 1998 in Marquette Law Review about Catholic judges and capital cases. (Evangelium vitae was issued in 1995) HERE
They are obliged by oath, professional commitment, and the demands of citizenship to enforce the death penalty. They are also obliged to adhere to their church’s teaching on moral matters.
To anticipate our conclusions just briefly, we believe that Catholic judges (if they are faithful to the teaching of their church) are morally precluded from enforcing the death penalty. This means that they can neither themselves sentence criminals to death nor enforce jury recommendations of death. Whether they may affirm lower court orders of either kind is a question we have the most difficulty in resolving. There are parts of capital cases in which we think orthodox Catholic judges may participate-these include trial on the issue of guilt and collateral review of capital convictions. The moral impossibility of enforcing capital punishment in the first two or three cases (sentencing, enforcing jury recommendations, affirming) is a sufficient reason for recusal under federal law. But mere identification of a judge as Catholic is not a sufficient reason. Indeed, it is constitutionally insufficient.
There is an important footnote about their choice of the word “orthodox” which is worth attention.
Affirming Chandler’s conviction has the effect of sending him to death. And the appellate judge knows this, because he does his job after sentencing (not before, like the trial judge). But his cooperation is also material rather than formal. In reviewing the sufficiency of the indictment, the jury instructions, and the trial procedure he takes no position on the issue of capital punishment. He would reach the same conclusion if the defendant were sentenced to life in prison. Apart from its unintended consequences, his act (reviewing the fairness of the trial) is a good and just thing to do. If he did not sit on the case someone else would, with the same result. On balance, this seems like the kind of material cooperation that is morally acceptable.
To affirm a sentence is not to approve it. To affirm a sentence means that the higher court thought the lower court did its job. It seems that review of a request for a stay of execution would also fall into the shadow of review of a lower court’s sentence.
By the way, Justice Barrett writes in the paper in regard to review of death sentences:
There is a real moral cost to undermining the legal system, even in small ways. If the system were completely corrupt (as, say, the regime in Nazi Germany was) we could ignore this consideration. But it is hardly possible to make that claim about our own legal system. It has flaws-the death penalty is one. On the whole, though, it is a decent and just institution that judges should take care to preserve. If one cannot in conscience affirm a death sentence the proper response is to recuse oneself.’ If the judge does no moral wrong in affirming, he should enforce the law in easy cases, even if he could save a life by cheating.
The whole article is really interesting.
Clearly Justice Barrett has put strenuous effort into working through the dilemma of being Catholic and faithful to the Church’s teachings and being a judge and justice faithful to the Constitution.
I think I’ll go with her on this rather than with the Jesuit’s semi-formed imaginings.
Here’s another thing the Jesuit doesn’t understand.
Just because Francis imposed a self-referential paragraph 2267 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church doesn’t mean that the Church’s teaching on capital punishment has changed.
In Introduction to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (US HERE – UK HERE) Joseph Ratzinger wrote:
The individual doctrines which the Catechism presents receive no other weight than that which they already possess. The weight of the Catechism itself lies in the whole. Since it transmits what the Church teaches, whoever rejects it as a whole separates himself beyond question from the faith and teaching of the Church.
In the same section, Ratzinger said that the CCC is not a “super-dogma”, which can repress theologians in their free explorations.
Let’s stress: “as a whole”.
The Church teaches that capital punishment can be inflicted by the state.
The content of the Catechism is not true because it is the catechism. When you look at the paragraphs in the Catechism you will see that they are founded on Scripture and on what the Church has perennially taught. They are grounded on something solid.
Francis, in changing the paragraph on capital punishment made reference only to something he himself opined shortly before.
I wrote about that HERE.
St. Pope John Paul II taught in Evangelium vitae that capital punishment should not be inflicted in today’s modern context. However, he didn’t try to teach that capital punishment is intrinsically wrong, like abortion or euthanasia. He left the door open, but he said that we shouldn’t go there if at all possible. Catholics in the judiciary have to take that seriously.
Francis, in that murky change to CCC 2267 might have been making a “pastoral plea” to the world, but the language is so confusing that we don’t know what the real impact of the paragraph is. He tried to make it seem like he was saying that the Church changed her teaching because he said something once.
The role of Popes is to make things clearer, not more confusing.
The bottom line is that Laura Ingraham understands this better than the Jesuit… which isn’t a surprise.
Check out also Edward Fesser and Joseph M. Bessette