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44 Loy. L. Rev. 103 (1998-1999)
Justice, Legitimacy, and Allegiance: The End of Democracy - Symposium Revisited

handle is hein.journals/loyolr44 and id is 125 raw text is: JUSTICE, LEGITIMACY, AND ALLEGIANCE: THE
Robert P George*
My contribution to the First Things symposium, The End of
Democracy? The Judicial Usurpation of Politics, was a commen-
tary on the encyclical letter, Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of
Life), by Pope John Paul II.' That letter, which had been issued
a year and a half earlier, forcefully reasserted the Catholic
Church's firm and constant teaching regarding the value and in-
violability of human life.2 Thus, it condemned abortion and eu-
thanasia as crimes which no human law can claim to legiti-
mize.3 Moreover, the encyclical argued against use of the death
penalty, stating that criminal punishment ought not go to the
extreme of executing the offender except in cases of absolute ne-
cessity: in other words, when it would not be possible otherwise
to defend society.4 The print and broadcast media duly recorded
the Pope's vigorous reaffirmation of the Church's teachings on
the moral wrongfulness of abortion and euthanasia and took
particular note of what Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of
the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, described as the
* Associate Professor of Politics, Princeton University; Commissioner, United States
Commission on Civil Rights; Of Counsel, Robinson & McElwee, Charleston, West Vir-
ginia. B.A., Swarthmore College; M.T.S., J.D., Harvard University; D.Phil., Oxford Uni-
versity. The author wishes to thank William L. Saunders for his valuable advice and
1. Robert P. George, The Tyrant State, FIRST THINGS, Nov. 1996, at 39.
2. POPE JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Evangelium Vitae (25 March 1995), at 2
[hereinafter Evangelium Vitae].
3. Id. at 73.
4. Id. at 56. This language seems clearly to exclude the possibility of a purely re-
tributive justification for the death penalty. In the sentence immediately following it, the
encyclical also seems to rule out as a matter of moral principle, and not merely on the
basis of sociological considerations, a justification based on the belief that punishing
some criminals with death deters others: Today however, as a result of steady improve-
ments in the organization of the penal system, such cases [i.e., cases in which the execu-
tion of a wrongdoer is absolutely necessary for the protection of society] are very rare, if
not practically non-existent. Id.

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