Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Stop Killing the Kids

Today the Supreme Court handed down one of the most eagerly awaited decision of this term, holding that executing minors violates the Constitution. In doing so, we now join a vast majority of the rest of the world in doing away with the juvenile death penalty. It's about fucking time.

By a 5-4 vote, the Court found that a national consensus had emerged against the juvenile death penalty since its 1989 decision OKing the death penalty for 16 and 17-year olds. The court also leaned heavily on its own sense of "moral proportionality" and a heaping helping of foreign practices, which raised the ire of a dissenting Scalia (not surprisingly). While I don't join him on either the result or his phobia of foreign law, he's not wrong when he points out that there doesn't really seem to be much of a change from 15 years ago on this area. A few states have done away with the death penalty for kids, but at least two have actually reaffirmed or reinstated it, even if no kid has actually been sentenced to death there yet.

And way, pray tell, should a constitutional right rest on a "consensus" among the populace to enforce it? If that test was applied to many parts of the Bill of Rights, they'd fail overwhelmingly. That seems an odd way to run a Constitution, but I know that's fairly well settled law. Read the decision for yourself here.

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