LAW International Human Rights Seminar: The Death Penalty

Prof. Russell G. Murphy,

3 credits day; 3 credits evening.


Capital punishment is one of the most significant issues in international human rights law. This seminar will explore the death penalty from a variety of viewpoints, both national and international. It will start with foundational readings and discussions on United States death penalty policy. Major criticisms of capital punishment will be reviewed. Consideration will also be given to the debate in the US Supreme Court over the propriety of relying on international law in US constitutional interpretation. Key Court decisions will be examined.

Focus will then shift to the international legal context including foreign court decisions, actions of international bodies, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and related international treaties, the UN Moratorium, and trends in Europe. An integrating question will be: can international law and practice support an argument for abolishing the death penalty in the US because capital punishment is no longer consistent with "evolving standards of decency" in American society.

Students will be expected to engage in significant independent study. Grades will be based on in-class participation, assigned research, and a presentation. The course can satisfy the Writing Requirement with Professor Murphy’s permission.


pointer    Enrollment is limited: 20 

pointer    Elective Course

pointer    On List of Recommended Perspectives Courses

pointer    Meets International Law Concentration Requirements

pointer    May Fulfill Legal Writing Requirement

pointer    Final Project Required

pointer    LLM Course


<<Course Updated: March 18, 2015>>