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Quotes Suitable for Framing: Antonin Scalia

It seems to me that the more Christian a country is the less likely it is to regard the death penalty as immoral. Abolition has taken its firmest hold in post-Christian Europe, and has least support in the church-going United States. I attribute that to the fact that, for the believing Christian, death is no big deal. Intentionally killing an innocent person is a big deal: it is a grave sin, which causes one to lose his soul. But losing this life, in exchange for the next? The Christian attitude is reflected in the words Robert Bolt’s play has Thomas More saying to the headsman: ‘Friend, be not afraid of your office. You send me to God’. For the nonbeliever, on the other hand, to deprive a man of his life is to end his existence.

Justice Antonin Scalia, God’s Justice and Ours, 123 First Things 17. (May 2002).

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.

5 Comments

  1. This is what bugs me in a lot of death penalty debates. Like the first question is never settled and everyone argues around: “Is death the worst punishment you can inflict on someone?”

  2. Amen, Nate Winchester. When you remove capital punishment you open up a pandora’s box. Should we put the criminal in a 8×8 cell for the remainder of life and consign them to a slow, horrible mental torture? Should we provide them a modicum of comfort or seek a release after rehabilitation in 20 years and insult any sense of retribution?

  3. Some time ago, I read that Timothy McVeigh repented, received the sacraments, and had a priest with him at his execution. They say a deadline has a remarkable ability to concentrate the mind. When you know the day of your death, you have a lot more time to think about what might happen next. On the other hand, Charles Manson lived until he was 83, and is not known to have ever repented. He had many years to be hardened in his sin.
    Which of these two was better treated by the criminal justice system? The answer depends on whether you believe in God’s justice for sinners and mercy for those sinners who repent.

  4. The death penalty for homicide in the first degree, murder in stealth, is the temporal punishment and Justice for inflicting death on an innocent person who does not deserve the death penalty. The murderer acting in his capacity as a citizen operates in the name of the state. The murderer operating as a citizen in the name of the state, inflicts not only death but character assassination as inferred by his killing of the victim; that the victim deserved the death penalty. Also, acting in his capacity as a citizen of the state, the condemned murderer is executed by his own citizenship in the state through his own power of attorney.
    For the state to neglect to exercise the power of attorney of the condemned murderer to bring the condemned murder to Justice relegates the murderer to nil and his victim is denied rectitude.
    Any subsequent murder committed by the condemned murderer is now the liability of the state as the enabler as in the murder of the prison guard by Robert Pruitt.
    There is an excellent film starring Diana Rigg and Beau Bridges entitled Witness for the Prosecution in which the murderer escapes the death penalty for first degree murder only to be killed by the witness. The defense called it “execution”

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