The role of public opinion in court decisions on the legality of the death penalty
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There are various schools of thought on the role of public opinion in court decisions especially on the death penalty. A person’s view of the role of public opinion will be profoundly affected by whether the public he or she is thinking of is the totality of the electorate, those paying attention to the issue or some other group. Some categorically disapprove of any effective role of public opinion. While some argue that it should play a role in court decisions on the death penalty, others say that there is a role, but not a determinative one reasoning that judicial ethics and rules do not allow consulting the masses, but courts do not decide the law in the vacuum and so society influences are inevitable. Other schools of thought suggest that there is a role, but are not sure what it is and the rest think that public opinion should have no role at all in court decisions on the legality of the death penalty. The rest offer a critique without choosing sides. This enhances the debate and it can be discerned from the above views that determining the role of public opinion in court decisions is no easy task. It is even harder when dealing with death penalty cases because they affect the right to life. What emerges as the strongest school of thought is that public opinion has no effective role to play in court decisions as it takes into consideration the reality of public opinion while at the same time promoting judicial ethics.