Only four U.S. states have legislated against the juvenile death penalty since 1989 (but none of them was executing juveniles anyway). On the other hand, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Virginia allow the death penalty for a 17-year-old who commits a particularly shocking murder.
The supremacist five claimed that most other countries don't execute 17-year-olds. However, most other countries don't have capital punishment at all, so there is no distinction between 17- and 18-year-olds.
Furthermore, most other countries don't allow jury trials or other Bill of Rights guarantees, so who knows if the accused ever gets what we would call a fair trial? Over 90 percent of jury trials are in the United States, and we certainly don't want to conform to non-jury-trial countries.
The supremacist five must think they can dictate evolution of the meaning of treaties as well as of the text of the Constitution.
They cited the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which the U.S. Senate year after year has refused to ratify. They also cited the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which we ratified only with a reservation specifically excluding the matter of juvenile capital punishment.
Washington, D.C., sniper Lee Malvo was 17 during his infamous killing rampage, so now serial killers like him won't have to worry about the death penalty. Terrorists and vicious criminal gangs will be able to assign 17-year-olds as their hit men so they can "get away with it."
It wasn't long ago that the Supreme Court ruled in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) that it could not overturn Roe v. Wade because that might undermine "the court's legitimacy." But in the Simmons case, the high court flatly overturned its own decision about juvenile capital punishment in Stanford v. Kentucky only 16 years ago.
As Justice Antonin Scalia pointed out in dissent, the Supreme Court's invocation of foreign law is both contrived and disingenuous. The big majority of countries reject U.S.-style abortion on demand, so the supremacist justices conveniently omitted that "international opinion."
Our runaway judiciary is badly in need of restraint by Congress. A good place to start would be a law declaring it an impeachable offense for justices to rely on foreign law in overriding the U.S. Constitution or congressional or state law.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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