Abortion raises moral and spiritual questions over which honorable persons can disagree sincerely and profoundly. But those disagreements did not then and do not now relieve us of our duty to apply the Constitution faithfully.
The Free Exercise Clause at the very least was designed to guarantee freedom of conscience by prohibiting any degree of compulsion in matters of belief. It was offended by a burden on one's religion. The Establishment Clause can be understood as designed in part to ensure that the advancement of religion comes only from the voluntary efforts of its proponents and not from support by the state. Religious groups are to prosper or perish on the intrinsic merit and attraction of their beliefs and practices.
I cannot see any of these death penalty cases where there hasn't been a violation on the ground of either poverty or race. If we can ever get that straightened out, it will help. But, of course, the real answer to it is to do away with the death penalty.
We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins. When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man's knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer.
The mixing of government and religion can be a threat to free government, even if no one is forced to participate.... When the government puts its imprimatur on a particular religion, it conveys a message of exclusion to all those who do not adhere to the favored beliefs. A government cannot be premised on the belief that all persons are created equal when it asserts that God prefers some.
I am more optimistic though, that this court will eventually conclude that the effort to eliminate arbitrariness while preserving fairness in the infliction of [death] is so plainly doomed to failure that is - and the death penalty - must be abandoned altogether. I may not live to see that day, but I have faith that eventually it will arrive.