ISSN 2330-717X

Death Penalty Bedevils Biden – OpEd

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In 1994, Sen. Joe Biden signed a crime bill that added dozens of additional offenses to the list of crimes punishable by death. Two years ago, while campaigning for president in New Hampshire, he complemented its citizens, saying, “By the way, congratulations to ya’ll ending the death penalty here.”

This past March, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that the president “has grave concerns about whether capital punishment, as currently implemented, is consistent with the values that are fundamental to our sense of justice and fairness.” Inexplicably, on June 14 the Department of Justice (DOJ) asked the Supreme Court to reinstate the death penalty against the Boston Marathon bomber (which happens to be  the same position taken by President Trump).

It is obvious that the death penalty is bedeviling Biden. But why?

In 2018, the Catholic Church, which had previously said that the death penalty was permissible in certain circumstances, revised its teaching by saying it was always impermissible. Biden could have said, of course, that his switch—from being pro-death penalty to anti-death penalty—reflected the change in the teachings of the Catholic Church. But he did not. He didn’t because that would have begged the question: Why are you still opposed to the Church’s teaching on abortion?

Biden has created this jam, not the Catholic Church. Even more bizarre, now his opposition to the death penalty is being ignored by his own DOJ.

A Pew Research poll released this month showed that the majority of Americans (60%) favor the death penalty. An even newer poll, taken by CRC Research, found that 83% of Catholics who regularly attend Mass say that public figures who disagree with policy positions held by the Catholic Church “create confusion” among the rank-and-file. Three of four (74%) of these Catholics say that these officials should not present themselves for Communion.

Biden is out of sync with the Church on the issue of the beginning of life—he is totally opposed to acknowledging any human rights for innocent unborn babies—but he is in sync with the Church when it comes to capital punishment. Why are Biden’s “values that are fundamental to [his] sense of justice and fairness” only applicable to convicted murderers but not innocent babies?

If Biden is bedeviled by the death penalty, it is fair to say that he is plagued by abortion. It is a subject that will not go away, and his inability to adopt a consistent ethic of life is making the “devout Catholic” look like a rank hypocrite, if not worse.

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William Donohue

William Donohue is the current president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights in the United States, and has held that position since 1993.

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