Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Supreme Court Bans Death Penalty for Child Rapists

Today, the United States Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law which provided for the imposition of the death penalty for defendants convicted of raping children under the age of 12. In addition to Louisiana, five other states have similar laws. This decision by the United States Supreme Court invalidates those laws as well. This was a 5 to 4 decision. The majority opinion was written by Justice Anthony Kennedy. The fact that nobody has been executed in the United States in 44 years for a crime not involving murder weighed heavily in his opinion. In ruling that the death penalty is only appropriate for crimes involving murder, Justice Kennedy wrote that "the death penalty is not a proportional punishment for the rape of a child." The victim in the case was an 8 year old girl who had been raped by her stepfather in a small town just outside of New Orleans. Justice Kennedy stated that the death penalty should be reserved for the most heinous crimes but left intact the imposition of the death penalty for crimes against the state, such as treason, espionage and terrorism.

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