Supreme Court Won't Change Decision Preventing Executions for Child Rape

Good news today from the Supreme Court. Its decision in June in Kennedy v. Louisiana invalidating state laws that allow execution of those convicted of child rape that did not result in death will stand, despite complaints about a factual inaccuracy in the opinion.

In its 5-to-4 decision in June, the court reasoned that, because so few states allowed the execution of child rapists, there was a national consensus against applying the ultimate punishment to such criminals. Not long afterward, it was disclosed that the lawyers arguing the case, and the justices themselves, had been unaware of a 2006 amendment to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, specifically making child rape committed by service members a capital crime.


The 2006 change to the military-justice code merely tinkered with a statute that had authorized capital punishment for the rapes of children (and adults) all along, he wrote. Besides, he said, “authorization of the death penalty in the military sphere does not indicate that penalty is constitutional in the civilian context.”

Two judges voted to rehear the case -- Thomas and Alito.

The order denying rehearing but containing the factual modification is here. The full corrected opinion is here.

Sex Crimes Blog has this resource page devoted to the case.

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    Thanks again to TL for this, (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 02:39:57 PM EST
    prior to your postings on this subject I did not know one could be executed for anything other than murder.

    So far, anyway, I have seen no situation where I could justify the DP for a non-murderer.

    I am anti-death penalty (none / 0) (#2)
    by stefystef on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 02:53:51 PM EST
    and this news has a double edged sword.

    On one hand, I am against the death penalty because I never felt it was a real deterrent to murder (since most folks ain't think about the death penalty when the are in the middle of killing another human being).

    But the rape of a child sickens me to the point where death is too good for the perpetrator.  Yet, I can't condone the death penalty in this case either.

    And that makes me sad. : (

    When is the DP a deterrent? (none / 0) (#3)
    by Fabian on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 03:23:11 PM EST
    What crimes would the DP a deterrent for in the majority of cases?

    I feel that the DP is a kind of feel-good mechanism for society so it can pat itself on the back about just rewards and that kind of sentiment.  

    (BTW - we've decided my husband got on the GOP list by contributing to a law enforcement charity.)


    Death Penalty is about revenge (none / 0) (#4)
    by stefystef on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 03:39:51 PM EST
    and justice can never EVER be about revenge.  A society, a civilization can not let emotions control governing its citizens.

    You are right about the knee-jerk reaction.  I have heard many family members of victims who got to see their love ones killer executed and it didn't make them feel better.  In the end, it doesn't change anything.  


    What did it for me (none / 0) (#6)
    by Fabian on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 03:52:08 PM EST
    was talking to a prof who was sexually abused by her grandfather.  When he died (natural causes) she thought it would all be over.  Poof! Everything resolved!  It doesn't work that way.  The event, the experiences, the memories are what we carry around with us.  There's no simple way to just be done with it.

    An assault or crime may not victimize you just once, but repeatedly through the after effects.  Confining an offender may help, but it's not going to make it all go away.  


    well, if you want to get (none / 0) (#8)
    by cpinva on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 05:17:10 PM EST
    nit picky about it,

    What crimes would the DP a deterrent for in the majority of cases?

    it would most certainly deter the executed from committing any more crimes. as to anyone else, i've not a clue.


    A light maiming.... (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by Fabian on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 05:42:50 PM EST
    would have much the same effect.  Why kill a murderer who brutally beat someone to death if surgically rendering them a paraplegic would have the same effect of preventing them from committing the same crime in the future?

    Because merely crippling someone is cruel and unusual punishment, but putting them to death isn't?

    The one thing I will say about our justice system is that it is far more emotional than logical.  


    kudos to Jeralyn (none / 0) (#7)
    by obamahasmyvote on Wed Oct 01, 2008 at 04:13:36 PM EST
    This is a great victory for all of s who would like to see a Justice System that hews to the rights guarenteed in The U. S. Constitution and Bill Of Rights. A system that protects us and protects our basic rights. A system that is not a reactionary turning away from Justice.

    Jeralyn should take a modest bow. She has been tireless in her work for changing the thinking behind the knee jerk "Lock them all up" Law and Order policies.

    Criminals should be punished, but trials must be fair and punishment needs to be effective, just, and proportional.

    Keep fighting Jeralyn! You are making a difference which is making our country  better place.

    Just (none / 0) (#10)
    by Wile ECoyote on Thu Oct 02, 2008 at 05:56:29 AM EST
    curious, what is the correct proportion for a child rape?