CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

U.S. Supports Rehearing in Kennedy Death Penalty Ruling

The US Justice Department has appealed to nation's highest court to re-hear a major death penalty case involving sentencing for child rapists, saying the ruling was made without all the facts.

The Supreme Court last month ruled 5-4 against the death sentence for child rapists, but did so without considering a 2007 executive order that makes child rape a crime punishable by death according to military law, the Justice Department said in a rare motion filed this week.

In the high court's ruling in Kennedy v. Louisiana on June 25, Justice Anthony Kennedy said "there is a national consensus against capital punishment for the crime of child rape," due to the lack of recent executions and the low number of states that permit the death penalty for such crimes.

However, by striking down Louisiana's law to accord the death penalty for child rape, the court did not take into account a presidential order authorizing the military to condemn to death convicted child rapists, the Justice Department said.

"The United States has a substantial interest in rehearing because the Court's decision casts grave doubt on the validity of a recent act of Congress and executive order of the president authorizing capital punishment for child rapists under the uniform code of military justice," acting solicitor general Gregory Garre said in the motion.

"Because the court did not have a complete description of the relevant legal landscape, the court's decision rests on an erroneous and materially incomplete assessment of the 'national consensus' concerning capital punishment for child rape."

Read full article here. [Brooks Holland]

Capital Punishment, Criminal Law, DOJ News | Permalink

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