Thursday, June 26, 2008
In a closely divided opinion today, the Supreme Court found that while the crime of raping a child is a "revulsion" to society, it does not merit the death penalty.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for a 5-4 majority, found that "a death sentence for one who raped but did not kill a child, and who did not intend to assist another in killing the child, is unconstitutional."
Louisiana and five other states have laws imposing the death penalty for that crime. The ruling today overturned those laws.
The decision and a fiery dissent from the conservative justices explored the controversial moral questions society must face in addressing the topic of child rape.
Kennedy acknowledged as much, writing that such a crime "cannot be recounted in these pages in a way sufficient to capture in full the hurt and horror inflicted on the victim."
"We cannot dismiss the years of long anguish that must be endured by the victim of child rape," he wrote. But he said that capital punishment is not a "proportionate" penalty for the crime. [Mark Godsey]