Saturday, September 13, 2008
Robert Badinter, the French Minister of Justice between 1981 and 1986, led the battle to abolish the death penalty in France. He became a militant abolitionist after watching one of his clients unjustly guillotined in 1972. Over the next decade, he fought the death penalty in the courts and saved six men from the guillotine. After the election of François Mitterrand in 1981, Badinter was named Minister of Justice and pushed through the legislation that abolished the death penalty.
Badinter's book, Abolition: One Man's Battle Against the Death Penalty, serves as a guidebook on the various legal and political strategies that can be used in the quest for abolition. With U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, Badinter recently co-authored a book on the role of judges.
In a discussion about the death penalty, Badinter will be joined by Neal Katyal who recently won Hamdan v. Rumsfeld in the United States Supreme Court and who in July of this year agreed to serve as lead counsel for the State of Louisiana in asking the United States Supreme Court to reconsider its June decision abolishing the use of the death penalty for child rapists. Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, will introduce the evening. He has written the forward for Badinter's book, Abolition.