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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Politicians Respond to Kennedy

Angry politicians vowed to keep writing laws that condemn child rapists to death, despite a Supreme Court decision saying such punishment is unconstitutional.

"Anybody in the country who cares about children should be outraged that we have a Supreme Court that would issue a decision like this," said Alabama Attorney General Troy King, a Republican. The justices, he said, are "creating a situation where the country is a less safe place to grow up."

The court's 5-4 decision Wednesday derailed the efforts of nearly a dozen states supporting the right to kill those convicted of raping a child and said execution was confined to attacks that take a life and to other crimes including treason and espionage.

At issue before the high court was a Louisiana case involving Patrick Kennedy, sentenced to die for raping his 8-year-old daughter in her bed, an assault so severe she required surgery.

In his majority opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that "the death penalty is not a proportional punishment for the rape of a child," despite the horrendous nature of the crime.

Republican Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal called the ruling "incredibly absurd" and "a clear abuse of judicial authority" and said officials will "evaluate ways to amend our statute to maintain death as a penalty for this horrific crime."

Oklahoma officials said they, too, weren't ready to give up and would "certainly look at what options we have," state Sen. Jay Paul Gumm said. "I think the people of Oklahoma have spoken loudly that this is one of the most heinous of crimes."

Even White House hopefuls joined the fray.

Republican Sen. John McCain called the ruling "an assault on law enforcement's efforts to punish these heinous felons for the most despicable crime." Democratic Sen. Barack Obama said there should be no blanket prohibition of the death penalty for the rape of children if states want to apply it in those cases.

Continue reading article here. [Brooks Holland]

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/crimprof_blog/2008/06/politicians-res.html

Capital Punishment, Criminal Justice Policy, Criminal Law | Permalink

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