This essay reviews two books by Robert Badinter, former President of France's Constitutional Council and former French Minister of Justice. Taken together, they describe his successful advocacy against the death penalty in France, both in the courtroom and in the political arena. The essay focuses on his current goal of advancing the cause of abolition in the United States, as expressed in Contre la peine de mort. After making the case that arguments against the death penalty are for the most part unoriginal and unconvincing to non-abolitionists, the essay maintains that successful opposition to capital punishment must be based primarily on the strategies and tactics of the advocate. It then goes on to explore and analyze the reasons for Badinter's success in France, and concludes by stressing Badinter's ability to exercise a highly nuanced judgment, grounded in his historical and literary sensibilities, that enables him to be flexible and adaptable as his advocacy takes different forms or as situations develop in unpredictable ways.


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pp. 772-796
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