No Execution for Child Rapists

Posted: Jun 25, 2008 11:10 AM

The U.S. Supreme Court made it illegal to execute persons convicted of child-rape in a 5-4 decision today.

 "The death penalty is not a proportional punishment for the rape of a child," wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy, who authored the majority opinion. The ruling broke on party lines, the liberal Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer siding with Kennedy.

I'm waiting to see what kind of statement Obama makes on this...

Update: I'm reading Kennedy's opinion now. Here are some alarming parts from it, many of them based on a concept he calls "evolving standards of decency" he believes forbids capital punishment.

-"We conclude there is a national consensus against capital punishment for the crime of child rape."

-"Evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society counsel us to be most hesitant before interpreting the Eight Amendment to allow the extension of the death penalty, a hesitation that has special force where no life was taken in the commission of the crime....  Consistent with evolving standards of decency and the teachings of our precedents we conclude that, in determining whether the death penalty is excessive, there is a distinction between intentional first-degree murder on the one hand and nonhomicide crimes against individual persons, even including child rape, on the other."

-"But under respondent’s approach, the 36 States that permit the death penalty could sentence to death all persons convicted of raping a child less than 12 years of age. This could not be reconciled with our evolving standards of decency and the necessity to constrain the use of the death penalty."

- "the resulting imprecision and the tension between evaluating the individual circumstances and consistency of treatment have been tolerated where the victim dies. It should not be introduced into our justice system, though, where death has not occurred."