"That's not quite true," said University of California at Berkeley professor Franklin E. Zimring, who was quoted extensively in The New York Times in support of Kennedy's continental leanings. Iranian law prohibits executions of minors but considers a 10-year-old girl to be an adult, Zimring noted. In 2004, The Christian Science Monitor reported that five countries -- United States, China, Pakistan, Iran and Democratic Republic of Congo -- executed minors in the previous five years.
Michael Rushford of the pro-death penalty Criminal Justice Legal Foundation admitted that the roster of countries that still have the death penalty for adults doesn't exactly "help the pro-death penalty cause," as many of those countries don't cherish the notion of freedom. On the other hand, America does not own those countries' abuses. In the meantime, Rushford noted, "The Supreme Court has now said we're all going to wear the same socks and we're going to decide what a jury can decide."
That is the European Union model. Same socks. And jurors aren't welcome.
Kennedy also cited a "national consensus" in America against the juvenile-death penalty as a reason to overturn it. I must ask: Since when has the court issued rulings based on what average folk think?
Besides, if the Supreme Court did care what people thought, it wouldn't be looking to Europe to decipher the U.S. Constitution.
Zimring told me that the issue here isn't the 72 death-row inmates who committed capital murder as minors. Conservatives bristle at the mention of Europe, he explained, because, "As soon as you internationalize the discourse of capital punishment, then Arkansas no longer has a point."
That's right. But what else will Americans have to give up? Zimring noted that the United Nations has forced countries to end the juvenile-death penalty and the European Union forced Turkey to end capital punishment. He noted that the other countries complied for economic, not moral reasons.
Now, when countries have buckled to this pressure for the money, an America court interprets their surrender as an international trend against the death penalty. That is the EU way. Force dissenters to go along. Then boast that you have a consensus.
Individual rights? They're not high on the EU list. Then again, neither is punishment.