Of course, for all of the shortcomings of Coker, at least it did leave open the door for those states wishing to craft narrowly tailored statutes allowing for the execution of those who commit the crime of aggravated rape against a child. No one could argue seriously that the victim of child rape has any real prospect of living a reasonably normal life. I hope the Court will make the right decision in 2008 – one that will, in part, mitigate a bad decision rendered in 1977.As I write this column, just a few short weeks have passed since a 95-year old woman was raped in the upstairs bedroom of her home in downtown Wilmington, North Carolina. Sadly, there is no prospect that this man will ever be caught, tried, convicted, and executed. The Court does not allow the execution of those who rape adults - even those who rape 95 year olds who will never see life return to anything like a “normal” state of affairs.
The people of Georgia had it right a third of a century ago when they sought to execute Mr. Coker for the aggravated rape of a teenaged girl. After all, he had killed someone before, raped a teenager before, and raped again after escaping from prison. Why should they put him back in prison just to decide whether he wanted to rape people on the inside or escape again to rape people on the outside? Death is the only reasonable deterrent for such a hardened criminal.
The necessity of executing people like Coker should be readily apparent to anyone – regardless of his state of moral “evolution.” The need to execute those who rape our grandchildren – and grandmothers, for that matter – should be just as apparent to the enlightened mind.
Regrettably, the Supreme Court is now involved in the very complex business of deciding whether some kind of “trend” dictates the constitutionality of the child rape statute. That is a question best left for the states in reliance on both common law and common sense.