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.
About Robert Badinter
Robert Badinter is the author of over a dozen books including work on Oscar Wilde and Condorcet. He also co-authored a recent book on the role of judges with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. Badinter is married to the prominent feminist Elisabeth Badinter. Together, they form one of France?s most influential couples. He is currently a member of the French Senate and celebrated his 80th birthday in March 2008.
About Neal Katyal
Georgetown University Law Professor, Neal Katyal, named one of the leading "40 lawyers under 40" by the National Law Journal, recently won Hamdan v. Rumsfeld in the United States Supreme Court, a case that challenged the policy of military trials at Guantanamo Bay Naval Station, Cuba. Katyal served as co-counsel for Vice President Al Gore in the U.S. Supreme Court election case Bush v. Palm Beach Canvassing Board, which challenged the Florida voting system. He has clerked for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer as well as Judge Guido Calabresi of the U.S. Court of Appeals.
Katyal has appeared on every major American nightly news program including the Colbert Report.