Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty

Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty National Supporters

Conservatives, like all Americans, have a wide variety of views on the death penalty and a wide array of reasons they are concerned about it. Here are some of them. (The following views are the speakers’ own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of CCATDP, which is a single issue organization).

“Conservatives have every reason to believe the death penalty system is no different from any politicized, costly, inefficient, bureaucratic, government-run operation, which we conservatives know are rife with injustice. But here the end result is the end of someone’s life. In other words, it’s a government system that kills people.”

Richard Viguerie, Advisor to President Ronald Reagan

“I’m opposed to the death penalty not because I think it’s unconstitutional per se—although I think it’s been applied in ways that are unconstitutional—but it really is a moral view, and that is that the taking of life is not the way to handle even the most significant of crimes…Who amongst anyone is not above redemption? I think we have to be careful in executing final judgment.  The one thing my faith teaches me—I don’t get to play God.  I think you are short-cutting the whole process of redemption…I don’t want to be the person that stops that process from taking place”

Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice

“I believe that support for the death penalty is inconsistent with libertarianism and traditional conservatism. So I am pleased with Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty’s efforts to form a coalition of libertarians and conservatives to work to end capital punishment.”

Dr. Ron Paul, former Congressman and GOP Presidential candidate

“On the core issue — yes or no on capital punishment — I’m with the opponents. Better to err on the side of not taking life. The teaching of the Catholic Church, to which I belong, seems right to me: The state has the legitimate authority to execute criminals, but it should refrain if it has other means of protecting people from them. Our government almost always does.”

Ramesh Ponnuru, Senior Editor for National Review and Visiting Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute

“…after having my eyes opened to systemic corruption of our criminal (in)justice system at the hands of bad detectives, incompetent PD crime labs & out-of-control prosecutors, I no longer support the death penalty.”

Michelle Malkin, Conservative blogger, political commentator, and author

“I used to support the death penalty, but I oppose it now. It gives the state too much power, it actually cost more money than life in prison without parole, and the government sometimes sentences innocent people to death. There are hundreds of people in the U.S. that have been wrongfully convicted and eventually released after serving time on death row. Others have still been executed after evidence was introduced that strongly supports their innocence. If the government kills someone and later finds out they were innocent, there’s not much you can do.”

Julie Borowski, Conservative Libertarian Vlogger


“The death penalty is too perilous to risk to human error.”

Bruce Fein, Associate Deputy Attorney General and General Counsel to the Federal Communications Commission under President Ronald Reagan

“I first supported the death penalty until I found out how many innocent individuals were being killed and how costly it was on the taxpayers. In a free and just society, we should always strive to protect life, most especially all innocent life. And, ultimately, it costs the taxpayers more to put a man to death than keeping him locked up for life. So after studying the issue, I now strongly oppose the death penalty.”

Jeff Frazee, Founder, Young Americans for Liberty and Executive Director at New Leaders Network

“The government’s culture of death–including capital punishment–must be opposed by everyone who loves freedom and life.”

Lew Rockwell, CEO and Chairman, Ludwig Von Mises Institute

“Government has no business in the taking of life that is not strictly related to national defense. The same people who don’t believe that government can efficiently deliver health services or regulate the economy believe it can execute people without a mistake. Government should have no authority to make decisions where a mistake could mean the taking of an innocent life. I would rather see 100 guilty men go free, than to see one innocent person executed.”

Austin Petersen, Founder and Editor of The Libertarian Republic

“Are some crimes so heinous as to be worthy of the ultimate earthly punishment? Yes. Are some who commit those crimes capable of remorse, redemption and restitution? Yes, but not if they’re dead. Is government guilty of sloppiness and error in its judgments? Oh my God, yes! Add to that the proven fact that capital punishment in our clunky court system costs more than life without parole and you arrive at an inescapable conclusion: the right alternatives to capital punishment offer more hope, more deterrence and more justice.”

Lawrence W. Reed, President, Foundation for Economic Education

“My own story is one of redemption. I vehemently oppose the death penalty because it perpetuates the illusion that certain individuals are beyond redemption. Regardless of someone’s past actions, their life always has value. For all who are pro-life, we are called to oppose all threats to life from conception to natural death – including the death penalty.”

Abby Johnson, Pro-Life Advocate and Author

“With hindsight’s 20-20 vision and three decades of obstinate data, it’s clear to me that California created a fiscal monster that’s taking a human toll on the very people we wanted to protect. I support the efforts of Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty.”

Ron Briggs, Former Republican member of the El Dorado County, California Board of Supervisors and former death penalty advocate

The state’s right to kill you is the final demonstration of its power. The death penalty isn’t about justice; it is about the supremacy of the rulers over the ruled.

Jeffrey Tucker, Vice President and Editorial Director, American Institute for Economic Research

“The death penalty runs a dangerously high risk of killing innocent people, siphons billions of dollars from the public, and gives the government power it cannot be trusted to carry out fairly.”

Drew Johnson, Senior Fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research

“The United States government has perverted the relationship between the citizen and the State. We now have warrantless surveillance, militarized police and indefinite detention. How can a government that so easily disregards the fundamental principles that created it (and limited it) be trusted with questions of life and death? It can’t, and that is why I support Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty.”

Michael D. Ostrolenk, Co-Founder and National Director of the Liberty Coalition

“The most important reason to oppose capital punishment was eloquently stated by Marquis de Lafayette, who wrote, “I shall ask for the abolition of the penalty of death, until I have the infallibility of human judgment demonstrated to me.” Our courts, judges, prosecutors and police are NOT infallible, by a long shot.”

Paul Jacob, President of Citizens in Charge and the Liberty Initiative Fund

Other conservative voices from around the web

The following quotes are compiled from public sources and do not represent their endorsement of, or membership in, Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty.

“Even in the United States where we have the best due process probably in the world, we have probably executed people wrongfully for the death penalty, then found out through DNA testing many people on death row are there inaccurately. And even Republicans have pulled back their beliefs some on death penalty.”

Senator Rand Paul

Source: “Sen. Paul says no to domestic drones,” CNN, June 12th, 2012

“I felt very troubled about cases where someone may have been convicted wrongly.  DNA evidence definitely should be used when possible.  I agree with the pope that in the civilized world…the application of the death penalty should be limited.  I would definitely agree with that.  I would certainly suggest there probably should be some further limits on what we use it for.”

Rick Santorum

Source: “Santorum rethinks death penalty stance,” Free Republic, March 22, 2005

“My own view on capital punishment is that it is morally justified, but that the government is often so inept and corrupt that innocent people might die as a result. Thus, I personally oppose capital punishment.”

Edward H. Crane, Founder and President Emeritus, The CATO Institute

Source: “Politics: The Cato Institute,” Cato Institute, August 25, 2003

“I do not support the death penalty. I am very concerned about the studies that show that there exists racial and economic disparities that, in my view, should not be ignored.”

Michael Steele, Former Republican National Committee Chairman and Former Republican Maryland Lieutenant Governor

Source: “Maryland Senate Race,” Washington Post, October 27, 2006

“I believe that inside many Americans lies certain uneasiness about capital punishment.”

Bill O’Reilly, commentator

Source: “Work or Die,” World Net Daily, June 14, 2001

“I’m troubled by the fact that there are people that have been exonerated through DNA. That’s horrific. And we have to do something about that. ….There could be innocent people probably today on death row.”

Laura Ingraham, Host, The Ingraham Angle

Source: “Laura Ingraham: Abortion Is Part of The ‘Culture of Death,’” NewsBusters, May 4, 2014

“The biggest government waste: The death penalty. An individual death-penalty case could climb to $100 million, much of it spent at the litigation level. Also, DNA evidence has exonerated nearly 300 death-row inmates. At least 39 of those inmates have been executed despite evidence of innocence. Biggest government waste.”

John McLaughlin, creator and host of “The McLaughlin Group”

Source: “TMG Library: Transcripts,” The McLaughlin Group, January 1, 2011

“I oppose the death penalty. It’s too high a risk if we can get it wrong. It’s someone’s life.”

Evan McMullin, former conservative presidential candidate

Source: McMullin, Evan (@Evan_McMullin). October 17, 2016. 7:57 PM. Tweet.

“Death penalty is more expensive than life in prison. Far too often we kill the wrong person. Conservatives should oppose the death penalty.”

Charlie Kirk, Founder, Turning Point USA

Source: Kirk, Charlie, (@charliekirk11). April, 21, 2017. 12:50 PM. Tweet.

“How is it that conservatives generally believe in ‘life,’ but are very willing to allow a corrupt and hugely flawed court system to condemn someone to death?”

Larry Klayman, Founder, Judicial Watch

Source: “Confusion Among Conservatives,” World Net Daily, May 7, 2010

“It’s becoming harder to justify the death penalty in the face of evidence that our system is flawed… For years, people like me thought that being tough on crime meant supporting the death penalty. Times have changed, and it’s time for conservatives to get on the right side of the death penalty argument. One can oppose the death penalty and still be in favor of a tough, affordable, accurate, and fair criminal justice system.”

Mary Kate Cary, commentator and former speechwriter for President George H.W. Bush

Source: “Opposition grows against death penalty,” Clovis News Journal, April 22, 2013

“I think a [death penalty] moratorium would indeed be very appropriate.”

Rev. Pat. Robertson

Source: “Robertson Backs Death Penalty Moratorium,” New York Times, April 09, 2000

“I have come to think that capital punishment should be abolished.”

Jack Kemp, former Republican Congressman and Vice Presidential Candidate

Source: “Kemp Attacks GOP Challenger to Cuomo,” Washington Post, June 7, 1990

“My fundamental problems with the death penalty began as a result of my personal concern, echoed by many on all sides of the political spectrum, that it was inconsistent for one to be ‘pro-life’ on the one hand and condone government execution on the other…Then came the talk of margin of error; the fact that in the course of business, the government had sentenced innocent people to death based on either just plain poor legal representation or discoveries obtained through advanced DNA technology.”

Christian Josi, Former Executive Director, American Conservative Union

Source: “Life locked away, not death,” Washington Times, Monday, June 25, 2001

“I’m uncomfortable with the death penalty under any circumstances.”

Tucker Carlson, Fox News

Source: “Tucker Carlson Clarifies Michael Vick Comments,” Politico, January, 4 2011

“I’m a “law and order” guy. Don’t get me wrong. Individuals need to be held accountable. I don’t believe in… the kinds of fuzzy-wuzzy stuff of the Left, but I have always felt… and always said that there are very serious questions about the justice of the death penalty.”

Colonel Oliver North, President, National Rifle Association

Source: “Oliver North, a Warrior Against the Death Penalty,” Politisite, May 14, 2014

“As a pro-life, fiscally responsible conservative, I’ve long had problems with capital punishment. But in the face of all this evidence that the death penalty is neither just nor effective nor cost-efficient, it makes me wonder why anyone still supports it.”

SE Cupp, Conservative Columnist and Television Host

Source: “The conservative case against the death penalty,” NY Daily News, May 6, 2014

“As governor of New Mexico, I was a bit naïve and I did not think the government made mistakes with regard to the death penalty. I came to realize that they do. I don’t want to put one innocent person to death to punish 99 who are guilty.”

Gary Johnson, former Governor of New Mexico

Source: “Interview with Gary Johnson,”, August 21, 2011

“Society is not equipped to handle death penalty cases because of resources.  Large law firms are not willing at this stage to take these cases on, at a cost of many thousands of dollars, in order to make sure that if the public wants the death penalty, it is not administered with arbitrariness and caprice.”

Kenneth Starr, former United States Solicitor General

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, February 17, 2006

“The costs can’t be borne by smaller counties particularly, so if the crime occurs in a large county you might be charged with the death penalty, in a smaller county you’re not. That raises some significant questions about fairness.”

Greg Zoeller, Former Indiana Attorney General

Source: “Welcome death penalty discussion,” Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, November 21, 2010

“For those who believe in the virtue of limited government and criticize roundly when government does not work well, capital punishment does not meet fundamental conservative standards. Not only is it applied arbitrarily, but our judicial system cannot even figure out how to examine it properly.”

Marshall Hurley, former general counsel, North Carolina Republican Party

Source: Greensboro News & Record, July 27, 2003

“It is time for conservatives to do what they do best and insist that a wasteful, inefficient government program gets off the books… Small government and the death penalty don’t go together.”

Christy Clark, Former Montana State Representative (R-Choteau)

Source: “Execution costs in the cross hairs,” Great Falls Tribune, September 17, 2012.

“We should rethink the death penalty in this country. If even one innocent person is wrongly put to death on behalf of the state, for me, that is enough to get rid of it.”

John Feehery, Republican strategist who used to support the death penalty

Source: “Is the death penalty defensible?” The Hill, September 01, 2009

“I quit believing in capital punishment when I became convinced that the state is not trustworthy to use this power responsibly.”

Rod Dreher, Author and Senior Editor at The American Conservative

Source: “The Ugliness of Cheering for Capital Punishment,” Real Clear Religion, September 9, 2011

“[The death penalty is] a waste of time and money…The only thing it does is prolong the agony of the victims’ families.”

Donald McCartin, former conservative jurist who sent nine men to death row in California

Source: “To Execute or not: a question of cost?” NBC News, March 7, 2009

“It might be easier to allow the death penalty to continue if it were less expensive than life in prison. If the courts treated rich and poor equally. If it truly was a deterrent. If everyone that was executed was guilty. Unfortunately the sad truth about the death penalty is it is much more expensive. The courts do not disperse justice equally. It is not a deterrent. And sometimes, yes, sometimes they are innocent.”

Roy Brown, former Montana State Senator (R)

Source: “We should not administer it,” says a Kentucky lawmaker who supports the death penalty,” Louisville Courier Journal, January 21, 2013

“I’m opposed to the death penalty.”

Kathryn Jean Lopez, Former Editor, The National Review

Source: “Death Be Not Proud,” National Review, August 31, 2009