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Hugo Adam Bedau is Fletcher Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University. He has written and edited a number of books on political philosophy and on capital punishment, including Death is Different (1987) and The Death Penalty in America, 3rd edition (1982). He gratefully acknowledges the assistance of Henry Schwarzschild, Director Emeritus of the ACLU Capital Punishment Project.
The American Civil Liberties Union holds that the death penalty inherently violates the constitutional ban against cruel and unusual punishment and the guarantee of due process of law and the equal protection of the laws. The imposition of the death penalty is inconsistent with the fundamental values of our democratic system. The state should not arrogate unto itself the right to kill human beings, especially when it kills with premeditation and ceremony, under color of law, in our names, and when it does so in an arbitrary and discriminatory fashion. In the judgment of the ACLU, capital punishment is an intolerable denial of civil liberties. We shall therefore continue to seek to prevent executions and to abolish capital punishment by litigation, legislation, commutation, or by the weight of a renewed public outcry against this brutal and brutalizing institution.
—Courtesy of the American Civil Liberties Union
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