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June 10th, 2014
08:09 AM ET

Conservatives vs. the death penalty

Can conservatives justify the death penalty anymore? S.E. Cupp asks 5 questions that all conservatives should consider.


Cupp: I don’t think conservatives can continue to justify capital punishment.

Capital punishment is back in the news thanks to two botched executions in Ohio and Oklahoma, and conservatives who have long supported capital punishment are just now beginning to ask questions like, ‘Is it moral?’ If we are a culture that values life, is that consistent with capital punishment? A lot of people are having problems reconciling that.

They’re asking, ‘Is it just?’ When innocent people are killed under the capital punishment system, and they are in untold numbers. How can we defend that? They’re asking whether capital punishment works.

For a long time people have suggested that it’s an effective deterrent for violent crime and there’s just no evidence of that. And finally they are asking, ‘Can we justify the exorbitant costs of the death penalty system?’ Cases that go to death penalty trials are far more expensive and incarcerating death penalty cases are far more expensive.

So none of the answers to those questions should satisfy good conservatives and I predict over the next couple of months or years even, conservatives might even fully evolve on their position on the death penalty and come to oppose it.

Filed under: Reloaded • S.E. Cupp
soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. R Lyons

    I have no problem with the death it's must be watching these prisons on TV of them lifting weights eating good watching TV. and healthcare for free not until it comes a place where you have to work 7 days a week in the cold heat of the day. as far as the botched execution build a large wood chipper drop them in their then make the prisoners clean it up. and by the if your found guilty you have no rights at all. if your caught red handed the wood chipper waits for you to be dropped in. right way

    June 15, 2014 at 4:57 pm | Reply
    • Robert

      Fortunately, everything you said and want is unconstitutional as stated by the Supreme court and the Constitution. MAYBE you would fit in better in Russia. You probably would be very happy there.

      June 16, 2014 at 3:20 pm | Reply
  2. Harold

    S.E. Cupp is right. I used to support the death penalty, with my reasoning being that if someone commits a particularly heinous crime, they are entirely deserving of it and are unlikely to ever be of any benefit to society.

    I could get past just about any other objection, but the fact is that innocent people have been executed by mistake. It's not acceptable for the state to murder an innocent person. For that reason especially, I cannot support the death penalty.

    June 14, 2014 at 3:03 pm | Reply
    • Robert

      You can't be a Catholic if you are for Executions of People

      June 14, 2014 at 6:11 pm | Reply
  3. Robert

    The death penalty is immoral, expensive, does not deter crime, is creating problems with our allies, is highly biased for the poor and minoritys, AND if you make a mistake, is not reversible.

    June 14, 2014 at 1:27 pm | Reply
  4. Al

    Nothing is wrong with the death penalty, the only problem is that it should not take longer than 1000 days to execute the death sentence. It's already humane the way they are euthanized, i'm sure the victim that they killed was no where as humane. It should not be about the criminal, they surrendered their rights when they committed the crime. 1000 days is enough to get you affairs in order and kiss everyone good buy.

    June 12, 2014 at 10:54 pm | Reply
  5. clarkcountycriminalcops

    I can't believe a single Christian would suggest that Jesus, after being wrongfully convicted and brutally executed, would support the death penalty.

    June 11, 2014 at 11:27 pm | Reply
  6. rgw46

    yep–sorry I can not see all the expense and BS over the years. Rapist/murders/child abusers.. I do have a quick fix..and it works...GO DOWN TO YOUR FAVORITE HARDWARE STORE...BUY A ROPE ... DONE

    June 11, 2014 at 2:03 pm | Reply
  7. dudleysharp

    Hopefully, Ms. Cupps review will be considered and rejected, by conservatives and liberals, alike – and by her

    It appears that SE Cupp has, simply, accepted anti death penalty deceptions, without fact checking - increasingly a problem (1), that should stop.

    I hope that Ms. Cupp will reconsider and reverse her position, as did I.

    To rebut her conclusions

    1) Ohio – The (Imagined) Horror of Dennis McGuire's Execution

    Oklahoma - Clayton Lockett: The Case For Execution

    2) Morality Issues

    The moral foundation for the death penalty is the dignity of man and the reverence for life. Many seem to have, somehow, turned that upside down.

    New Testament Death Penalty Support Overwhelming


    The Death of Punishment: Searching for Justice among the Worst of the Worst, Robert Blecker, (2013)

    2) Innocents are more at risk without the death penalty

    The Death Penalty: Do Innocents Matter?
    A Review of All Innocence Issues


    The Innocent Frauds: Standard Anti Death Penalty Strategy

    OF COURSE THE DEATH PENALTY DETERS: A review of the debate
    99.7% of murderers tell us "Give me life, not execution"

    3) Saving Costs with The Death Penalty


    1) Few Conservatives Embrace Anti Death Penalty Deceptions

    June 10, 2014 at 5:51 pm | Reply
  8. dudleysharp

    Few Conservatives Embrace Anti Death Penalty Deceptions
    from Dudley Sharp

    Conservatives Concerned About The Death Penalty (CCATDP):
    Just another dishonest anti death penalty group

    CCATDP is owned and controlled by Equal Justice USA, a George Soros beneficiary.

    1) Few Conservatives Embrace Anti Death Penalty Deceptions

    "Some conservatives have morphed into anti death penalty advocates, displaying the common tendency of either blindly accepting false anti death penalty claims, with willful ignorance, or knowingly pushing deceptions, as does CCATDP, as detailed."

    2) Conservatives Concerned About The Death Penalty: Just another dishonest anti death penalty group

    "CCATDP is but another anti death penalty group, whose claims are, easily, rebutted and which was founded and funded by a long time, well known liberal anti death penalty group, Equal Justice USA, which is supported by George Soros."

    3) DEAD WRONG: (Montana) Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty (MCCATDP)

    "Every point from the MCCATDP website (1) is false. It appears that MCCATDP has simply parroted anti death penalty frauds, with no effort at finding out if they were true. Quite irresponsible and common."

    4) Rebuttal to Ron Paul at

    Few Conservatives Embrace Anti Death Penalty Deceptions

    "(Paul) has bought into the anti death penalty frauds, without fact checking them, a common liberal problem, now infecting some libertarians and conservatives."

    5) Rebuttal to Richard A. Viguerie

    "Mr. Viguerie makes a very weak argument for repeal of the death penalty and he duplicates the many errors of those rare conservatives against the death penalty, who seem to embrace anti death penalty deceptions (1)."

    June 10, 2014 at 4:46 pm | Reply
    • Long Island Nyerere

      Charles Manson. – what a waste of taxpayers dollars. Boston marathon, most recent shooting today in oregon
      We need the death penalty ...if they are. Guilty they are guilty ..1 bullet done Move on
      Keep in mind these people can not be rehabilitated, they have no regard to human life
      No need to waste any time on it
      As far as Ohio & Oklahoma ..train them ,teach them ..less exspense then having a guilty criminal sentenced to life

      June 10, 2014 at 8:12 pm | Reply
  9. lividemerald2013

    If there is irrefutable proof of a murderer's guilt (video analysis, DNA, multiple reliable witnesses, etc.), then useless, costly appeals should be dismissed. Execution would be simpler and a lot more cost effective if the guillotine were used, and this form of swift, painless, but ultimately cringeworthy capital punishment might also dissuade a few would-be murderers. Once someone has murdered another human being in cold blood, and no mitigating factors are up for consideration, the murderer no longer deserves "moral" leniency. Yes, we want to be a humane society. But rather than fret over capital punishment cases, we should work towards improving the welfare of honest, law-abiding citizens. S.E. Cupp is a conservative, and I agree with her on most issues, but not on this one.

    June 10, 2014 at 2:59 pm | Reply
  10. manderson367

    It's called "An eye for an eye." It's called "Vengeance". It's called "Justice". You can even call it the "Golden Rule". I personally believe the death penalty should be used much more often. If someone has killed someone else for reasons other than an accident or self defense, they need to be put down. The same way we do a wild animal that has attacked a human. But the difference there is the animal is acting on instinct, protecting itself. The human being knows right from wrong and chooses to do wrong. No pity from me at all if their execution is painful. And if you want to cry that they should be rehabilitated, fine. Let them move into your house, with your family and you rehabilitate them. Criminals are given way more compassion than they ever gave their victims. Expense? How much does a single bullet to the brain cost?

    June 10, 2014 at 2:48 pm | Reply
    • kurt

      I'm not disagreeing, but isn't much of Christianity based on forgiveness?

      Here's the issue... there are two main "wings" of the conservative party. The fiscal conservatives... and the social conservatives (that may be simplifying it too much... but it's what I'll work with).

      For the fiscal conservatives it's less of a moral question and more of a cost question. And capital punishment as we do it today costs a lot more.

      For the social conservatives... it's a religious question (because the social wing of the conservative party is predominantly rules by morals from the various Christian faiths).

      Some biblical quotes:

      "For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."

      "Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven"

      "But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you"

      "Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. "

      That last one is key. It's directly contradicts "eye for an eye".

      I'm not Christian and I have a vengeful side. I'm completely okay with putting horrible people to death. My only concern is the cost and making sure the innocent don't get that ultimate punishment by mistake. I just can't understand how Christian conservatives justify it given their faith.

      June 10, 2014 at 3:27 pm | Reply
      • dudleysharp

        The Death Penalty: Mercy, Expiation, Redemption & Salvation

        June 10, 2014 at 5:53 pm |
      • kurt

        Dudley... I'm not sure I buy much of what's in that link.

        1) In the first section, the argument is that by giving them capital punishment in this life, we are absolving him of his punishment in the next. First... the idea that earthly authority can impact heavenly justice seems a little out of place with Christianity. Second... it goes back to it being god's choice to punish or not. Man is supposed to forgive. Third... it talks about consent. Those being executed aren't "consenting" to give up their lives. Their lives are being taken.

        2) By convicting someone to death you're doing them a favor by encouraging them to repent and enter heaven in a state of grace? So why not just put everyone to death then who's done even the most minor of sins (for god views all sins equally... right?) Have immoral thoughts.... we're going to kill you. Best repent today so you can die in a state of grace.

        Oh wait... that would be stupid. So's that particular argument.

        3) Really doesn't matter if it profits the sinner or not... does it profit those who are putting the man to death? The person being executed has no choice in the matter. Those putting him to death do... they're the ones who'll be judged in heaven for those actions. And the Bible seems to suggest we should be forgiving... not vengeful. The question is that if a person supports the taking of a human life as a punishment... is HE defying the will of god... not does the one being killed profit in the afterlife.

        4. Same as above. The point is that while Jesus didn't save them, he likely wouldn't have put them to death either.

        5. Same as above. The passages keep stating that the fear of death will cause the condemned to repent. But even so, how does that justify the act of killing those people by Christians?

        6. Christianity seems to say you should forgive those who sin against you. This (non-bible) passage says that the person who committed the crime chose death. I agree with the later... but it's not from the Christian canon. Christians are supposed to forgive... not punish.... right?

        7. Far be it for me to contradict a pope... but how does killing sinners not violate "thou shalt not kill" and "turn the other cheek"? I can't follow the logic in that.

        8. He basically says it's up to the secular government to determine if someone should lose his life for a crime or not. It doesn't say if Christians should vote for a particular party who wants to take lives away for crimes. It's part of the "obey your government" section of Christianity... but that doesn't mean you have to vote for politicans who'll institute views that are against your religion... merely that you have to follow and obey the laws that the government institutes. I don't see this as a defense for Christian support of capital punishment.

        I"m going to stop there as this is getting very long (34 examples, mostly about expiatation). The point is your article focuses mainly on the following:
        1 – It's the criminal's fault.
        2 – They can still repent and go to heaven.
        3 – Christians should follow secular law

        None of this defends Christians SUPPORTING and VOTING FOR capital punishment when key tenants of their faith are "Thou shalt not kill" and "forgive those who sin against you". The arguments arent' illogical... I agree with much of them. I just see them as non-christian arguments. Jesus was against capital punishment... you know... he without sin casting the first stone and all. If your link is correct and the condemned are better off for being executed (not sure I can buy that... but let's just argue it's true)... it doesn't address if it's correct for the Christian to support that execution or not. There's not even an attempt to do so there.

        June 12, 2014 at 9:28 am |
  11. Gunderson

    The person that is receiving the death penalty chose it not society. Society is just giving them what they asked for.

    June 10, 2014 at 1:49 pm | Reply
    • salty

      Exactly this is the first post that is the Truth!

      June 13, 2014 at 10:39 am | Reply
  12. michelle

    Spoken by a true liberal, who doesn't have a clue what she's talking about.

    A few points she didn't even bring up for consideration:

    (1) Why should society care about the person being executed if the execution is botched or he/she feels too much pain? Did the person that CHOSE to murder/hurt another innocent person care about the pain the victim felt, or the pain that the family of the victim went through/is going through?

    (2) Has a TRUE cost estimate of what it costs for a death penalty trial/execution vs keeping someone in behind bars for life ever been compared? If not, then why does a liberal says its more expensive? She 'conveniently' doesn't bother to have facts for that question.

    (3) If DNA proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the person who CHOSE to murder/hurt his/her victim is guilty, its time for that coward to face what he/she's got coming to him. Has this bleeding heart liberal bitch ever had the pain of losing a loved one to a murderer's hands, where a compassionate jury 'decided' that the death penalty was too cruel, while the family who lost that loved one has to live with the fact that this murder gets locked up for life, with three hots and a cot, not to mention time off for good behavior?

    Until someone can bring a loved one back from the dead at the hands of a cowardly murderer, THEN all you bleeding heart liberals can 'claim' that the death penalty is too cruel. Until then – the victim's family needs justice, with the death penalty fully at their disposal. If the cowardly murderer feels so much pain at execution – they need to be reminded of the pain they put their victim through. Until you bleeding heart liberals go through this, you'll always be soft on criminals and crime.

    June 10, 2014 at 11:49 am | Reply
    • Greg Kells

      Rubbish. I am a conservative and staunchly opposed to the death penalty based on my conservative principles, as is S.E.Cupp it seems. If you think about it objectively and dispassionately (which any good conservative should) it simply doesn't make sense. It is more expensive, and there is no ethical way to reduce that expense. It has been shown to be ineffective as a deterrent. The only service it provides to the community is to keep violent criminals away from the public. Life without parole serves the same purpose, costs less, and is far more ethical. For anyone to consider themselves pro-life (as I do), they must maintain that life is a right that cannot be taken under any circumstances. It is a difficult ethical stance to take, but it is the right one. The only argument FOR the death penalty is that is punishment, and "you'd feel different is it was your family who was murdered". It is an emotional argument. I prefer to leave the emotional arguments to children and liberals. I'm sure I would feel differently if it was my family. I'd be outraged and grief stricken beyond reason. The key words there are "beyond reason". Rational conservative thought requires reason be intact. If we let victims decide the fate of criminals we'd soon revert to barbarism. That isn't justice, it's revenge.

      June 10, 2014 at 1:35 pm | Reply
      • Malcolm

        Gotta love just how much Republican vs Democrat, Right vs Left goes on in this country and they way we just generalize the other side. Hi, I'm a liberal who would use the exact same arguments to state my opposition to the death penalty. Does that make my argument, and therefor yours, now an emotional one? Judge not, and all that, or do judge, that is your right. Just know when you do lump all people together like this you're bound to get it wrong at some point.

        June 11, 2014 at 4:24 pm |
    • Greg Kells

      How do you reconcile your completely irrational and emotional response with calling someone else a "bleeding heart". If you don't have a rational, objective stance, stay out of the discussion. Leave the emotionalism for the liberals.

      June 10, 2014 at 1:39 pm | Reply
    • Craig

      Isn't the author S. E. Cupp a conservative?

      Might want to get your facts straight before trolling... just saying

      June 10, 2014 at 2:51 pm | Reply
  13. The Author

    The author misused the word "conservative" in place of "republican". Because since WHEN has a republican EVER been a conservative.

    June 10, 2014 at 10:25 am | Reply
  14. kurt

    I've always been confused by the conservative (specifically religious conservative) viewpoint on the death penalty. It just didn't seem to fit well with what they claimed to believe (for many of the reasons Cupp stated).

    But living in a very red state (South Carolina), I'm not sure you're looking at a "couple of years" for this to change. I know way too many people who favor the "kill 'em all and let god sort 'em out" brand of justice to think that this is a change that would take anything less then a generation.

    Like many issues, I think you'll have young conservatives coming up who believe differently from the middle aged and older conservatives on this... but you won't see the GOP "party line" change for a couple of decades.

    June 10, 2014 at 8:24 am | Reply
    • michelle

      Until the younger generation experiences the pain of losing a loved one to the hands of a cowardly murderer, they won't see that the death penalty is needed.

      June 10, 2014 at 11:51 am | Reply
      • kurt

        I have no problem with the death penalty. I just find that it doesn't mesh well with those who claim to be devout followers of the Christian faith (which is a lot of the conservatives in these parts).

        It violates more then one "Thou shalt not".

        But... that wasn't really my point. My point was that if it does change it wont' be in "a couple of years" as Cupp suggested but rather a whole generation down the road.

        June 10, 2014 at 3:18 pm |
    • Greg Kells

      The argument was that the death penalty was a deterrent. Turns out it isn't. The "Evangelical" conservatives (which I tend to view as neo-conservative and not true to the tradition of American conservative thought) justified the ethical problem by insisting that a murderer chose his fate, whereas an unborn child or innocent victim had no say. It is a stretch, but it made them feel a little better about violating their own ethical stance. In my opinion,taking a human life is ALWAYS unethical. Like any question of ethics though, it must be weighed against the alternative. If an action is unethical, but inaction results in a more unethical outcome, sometimes you must act unethically. I don't see that as the case here. The alternative is permanent irrevocable incarceration. It seems to be a MORE ethical alternative. Aside from that allowing the government to execute it's citizens violates the core principle of conservatism. How can we claim to be in favor of a less intrusive government, while arguing that the government should have the most absolute authority imaginable.

      June 10, 2014 at 1:50 pm | Reply

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