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The Tally Ho

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

About time

The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the Constitution forbids the execution of killers who were under 18 when they committed their crimes, ending a practice used in 19 states.

The 5-4 decision throws out the death sentences of about 70 juvenile murderers and bars states from seeking to execute minors for future crimes.

The executions, the court said, were unconstitutionally cruel.

It was the second major defeat at the high court in three years for supporters of the death penalty. Justices in 2002 banned the execution of the mentally retarded, also citing the Constitution's Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishments.

The court had already outlawed executions for those who were 15 and younger when they committed their crimes.

Tuesday's ruling prevents states from making 16- and 17-year-olds eligible for execution.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, noted that most states don't allow the execution of juvenile killers and those that do use the penalty infrequently. The trend, he noted, was to abolish the practice.

"Our society views juveniles ... as categorically less culpable than the average criminal," Kennedy wrote.

The above from the AP found in the NYT, Supreme Court Bars Death Penalty for Juvenile Killers. Justice O'Connor joined the Rehnquist/Scalia's, err Thomas, cabal.
In a dissent, Scalia decried the decision, arguing that there has been no clear trend of declining juvenile executions to justify a growing consensus against the practice.

"The court says in so many words that what our people's laws say about the issue does not, in the last analysis, matter: 'In the end our own judgment will be brought to bear on the question of the acceptability of the death penalty,' he wrote in a 24-page dissent.

"The court thus proclaims itself sole arbiter of our nation's moral standards," Scalia wrote.

I was real happy after hearing this - this feeling was followed with the hopes that Justice Stevens can holdout until 2008.

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