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CWRU celebrates Constitution Day

Max Sills

Issue date: 9/25/09 Section: News
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Last Thursday, the Case Western Reserve University School of Law Center for Policy Studies observed Constitution Day, a federally mandated holiday, by hosting "The Death Penalty and the Constitution,", a panel discussion featuring three CWRU professors and five undergraduates. Each professor approached the death penalty from a different angle and was questioned by the undergraduate panelists. Afterward, members of the general audience were allowed to comment. Dr. Joseph White moderated the panel. "If the Constitution allowed the death penalty, society could still decide not to [enforce] it," said White. "There are further issues of morality, prudence, and effectiveness that could also be asked about the death penalty."

Jonathin Entin, a Case Western Reserve University School of Law dean, focused only on constitutionality. He examined how the due process clause of the Constitution must frame capital punishment. "The death penalty might be permissible as a general proposition," explained Entin, "but only if it is imposed through constitutionally acceptable procedures, that is the due process of law."

 Michael Benza, an attorney and visiting associate professor at Case, discussed the glaring racial inequalities in the justice system. "It is impossible to get the courts to address the question of whether or not there is racism inherent in the death penalty system...[yet] the death penalty is disproportionately applied to persons of color."

  Dr. Shannon French, Director of the Inamori Center for Ethics, considered the ethical consequences of the death penalty. "What would be the ethical basis for permitting someone to be executed by the state?" she asked. "Do we feel that it is permissible to kill someone to deter them from killing other people?"

The undergraduate panelists Cheyenne Chambers, David Mattern, Brandon Mordue, Mirela Turc, and Andrew Wolf did their best to stump the professors with specific ethical and constitutional dilemmas. The grounding presence of the undergraduates supplied a realistic counterpoint to the professors' more abstract lines of argument.

The recent attempted execution of Romell Broom, where Ohio executioners tried and failed to execute an inmate for over two hours, gives a chilling emphasis to the importance of open talk about the death penalty. Can a citizen ever forfeit all their rights to the state? As Dr. French asked the audience, "Can [the state] ever kill someone in a [way] that is not cruel and unusual?"
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In This Issue


  • Case EMS 'saves the day' at mass casualty drill
  • Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum to auction $1 million in cars
  • CWRU celebrates Constitution Day
  • Have you heard about women in liberal arts?
  • Reality star's "One-for-One" business model inspires mtvU to seek out "Movers & Shakers"
  • Sigma Nu fire ruled unintentional, sparks housing inspections
  • Speaker continues debate about legal drinking age
  • The new Kindle on campus: CWRU and Amazon partner to test the Kindle DX
  • Can you name this place?


  • Close wins on crooked river
  • Hard work paying off as conference play nears
  • Spartan Spotlight: Mike Vaughn
  • What if Browns were subject to a blackout?

Fun Page

  • Crossword Solution
  • Sudoku Solution


  • Editorial: Doc Oc memorial needs identification, context
  • Genocide rape should be treated as weapon of mass destruction
  • Large debates over drinking age missing the point
  • Legalizing drugs: a practical solution
  • Lifestyle changes for a green campus
  • Observer fails to acknowledge event programmers
  • State your case: What do you do with your favorite textbook?


  • Case Swing Club dances the night away with jazz quartet
  • Finding ways around being broke
  • Hitting the Spot: The Jackie Warren Trio
  • Jolly Scholar hosts weekly live music for CWRU musicians
  • Overheard at Case
  • Phish herald triumphant return with Joy-ful new album
  • Rising alternative hip-hop artist Kid Cudi to headline UPB Fall Concert
  • Shoes: strut your way to comfortable, fashion-forward style
  • The Buzz
  • The latest independent release roundup
  • Zombies take over Lakewood for bi-annual Cleveland Charity Zombie Walk

Cross Country

  • Simpson gets win at Calvin


  • Spartans jump out to 41-0 lead against Yeomen, improve to 3-0

Sex and Dating

  • Handling the aftermath


  • Spartans come out fast, but Lions escape with win
  • Team jelling after slow start

Worst Case Scenario

  • The Worst Case Scenario
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