Believing in the Death Penalty?


Greg Marcar
is a Research Affiliate at the Center for Theology and Public Issues at the University of Otago, where he is also a Teaching Fellow within the Theology program. Greg is a 2019 alumnus of the ICLRS Religion and the Rule of Law Young Scholars Fellowship Program.

This post is derived from Marcar’s article “Revisiting Death’s Difference: The Philosophical Anthropology of the U.S. Death Penalty and the Impossibility of Capital Due Process”, British Journal of American Legal Studies | Ahead of Print, 21 April 2020.

Introduction

Few judicial issues are as polarising in the U.S. as the death penalty. Akin perhaps to abortion, attitudes towards capital punishment can often approximate a litmus test for liberal and conservative dispositions. For many of its legal and political opponents, the death penalty is a quintessentially disproportionate punishment, and thus contrary to the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on “cruel and unusual punishments.” For many of its supporters, the death penalty is not only congruent with the Eighth Amendment (particularly under a historically-focussed “originalist” reading);[1] it also instantiates the moral principle that those who commit the most horrendous acts within society must face the ultimate sanction. Between these positions, the possibilities for mediation appear slim. This is also true within religious thought, where assertions concerning the dignity of every human being and the value of forgiveness are often mirrored by equally forceful assertions concerning the sanctity of human life and the need for a retributive punishment of murderers which reflects this sanctity.[2] Continue reading “Believing in the Death Penalty?”

Religious Liberty and the Corona Crisis before the German Constitutional Court


Justin Collings 
is Francis R. Kirkham Professor of Law at Brigham Young University J. Reuben Clark Law School and author of 
Democracy’s Guardians: A History of the German Federal Constitutional Court, 1951-2001(Oxford University Press, 2015)

Global lockdowns intended to slow the spread of COVID-19 have raised wrenching questions about religious liberty. Although many faith communities have voluntarily shuttered to combat the plague, many religious people have chafed at regulations that require religious sanctuaries to close while permitting liquor stores to offer their “essential services.” Why, the faithful wonder, is booze more essential than the Sacred Host? Why should rum trump Ramadan? Some believers have expressed their anguish in constitutional challenges. In a pair of noteworthy decisions, the German Federal Constitutional Court has grappled with the tension between public health and religious exercise. In both cases, the Court has charted a pragmatic course through the crisis. Continue reading “Religious Liberty and the Corona Crisis before the German Constitutional Court”

Public Governance and Private Relationships: State Regulation and Religious Marriage in the UK


Michelle Flynn
is an Irish barrister and a Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Germany. She is currently a Visiting Researcher at Yale Law School in the United States.  Michelle is a 2019 alumna of the ICLRS Religion and the Rule of Law Young Scholars Fellowship Program.

In Attorney General v Akhter & ors [2020] EWCA Civ 122 the UK Court of Appeal overturned a judgment of the High Court which held that an Islamic marriage ceremony, a nikah, could have legal effect. There was a certain irony in the decision, which focused on the formal requirements of marriage law in England and Wales, being issued on St. Valentine’s Day; originally a Christian feast day, it has become a globally recognized day to celebrate love and romance. In modern times, marriage is generally regarded as intensely romantic, however the reality of the potential complications of marriage in our increasingly diverse and multicultural societies is frequently overlooked. Continue reading “Public Governance and Private Relationships: State Regulation and Religious Marriage in the UK”