Court rejects death penalty for raping children

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court has struck down a Louisiana law that allows the execution of people convicted of a raping a child.

In a 5-4 vote, the court says the law allowing the death penalty to be imposed in cases of child rape violates the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
“The death penalty is not a proportional punishment for the rape of a child,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in his majority opinion. His four liberal colleagues joined him, while the four more conservative justices dissented.

How does one judge ‘proportional punishment’?

I voted I don’t know. As a pro-life supporter it is hard to say that the death penalty is just punishment. As a mother and grandmother it is just as hard to say it is not a just and fair punishment. As a survivor of childhood rape my selfish desire is to say “kill” him.

But, as long as he can never get close to another child I think justice will be served. If they release him and he can do this again? I would say that the “death” penalty was the better choice of society.

This is yet another example of the Court legislating from the bench.

I voted yes. Even though child rape is an egregious crime, there are remedies that will protect society from these predator (except maybe some activist judge)

I wonder if the church would agree, i think it would:


Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm - without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself - the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity "are very rare, if not practically nonexistent."68

If I had an evidence that a life sentence truly meant a life sentence, then I would vote yes. But with our justice system as skewed as it is, I vote no. Have the rights of the young victim been totally forgotten here? This is a trauma that will stay with this child for the rest of her life.

I voted ‘don’t know’.

In theory I don’t have a moral problem with the State executing a child rapist, but what I fear is that a person could be wrongfully executed.

Pardon my wordiness and any incoherence here; I don’t claim to be a great writer but issues like this really strike hard with me.

I can understand anyone in their gut wanting death for these offenders, and if your child is the victim, I would have to question your state of mind if you didn’t want the rapist dead. I am sure any parent of a victim would. That said, we all know the church’s position on capital punishment. Killing people of any kind should be reserved only as a last resort self defense. It shouldn’t be a deterrent because objectively immoral actions cannot be used as a solely as a means to a greater good. Also, the motive cannot be to provide a fitting punishment that the offender “deserves”. That transfers the focus from victim to the offender, since the prevailing motive is the punishment of the offender instead of the protection of the victim or society. Thats a problem because focusing on the offender to render a fitting judgement entails judging his soul, which humans cannot know and which only God is allowed. In short, the prevailing motive has to be self defense because we recognize the right life stands above all others, even the sick and horrible lives of these rapists.

Again, if my child were raped, I would want the rapist to die - painfully. But that’s emotion, and that’s why we have a court that is supposed to operate rationally and with reason. Anyway, does anyone else who holds these positions feel like its your own cross? I do because I almost feel judged as unfeeling, not loving my own kids enough, or maybe even as some sort of pervert myself. When a child is abused, it just feels evil to suggest anything less than death for the abuser - period. Its like there’s a voice saying “how dare me even think such a monster be allowed live after what they did to a child!” I don’t like that feeling - at all.

By the way, to reverse gears a bit, I do vaguely recall from one of the CA shows some years ago, that there were magesterial writings alluding to capital punishment being valid purely as a means of justice (aside from the defense aspect). It was a quick and obscure reference though, so I don’t have any more detail than that. If anyone knows, I would love to hear it. Gotta keep learning and forming you know…


I am not saying I agree, but the court decision mentioned that ever since the SC reinstated the death penalty, it has not been used for any crime that did not involve the taking of a life. That seems to be what they take as the starting point for proportional.

Hey, y’all.

  I read this story on Yahoo and then I saw the poll here.  I voted "don't know" because I believe that every case involving the death penalty is different and should be treated as such.  The offender's state of mind, willingness to do the crime again, actual effect on the victim should all be considered before deciding on such a punishment.  I think the Supreme Court should have left this decision to the States as well.  Why rule federally on something like this anyway?  What one state wants another may not.  

  I disagree with whoever it is that said that the future safety of society should not be considered when making a decision about the capital punishment of a highly violent offender.  If it is determined that said offender would without a doubt kill again, or maybe even rape again (anybody), but definitely kill, then I think they should die.  This determination can be reached with psychological evaluations and interviews with various personnel, including the clergy.  I would imagine prison escapes are hard to do and don't happen all that often, but I say why take the chance.  Plus - somebody this slick might make parole.


This is nuts.

They’ve just declared open season on children. Oh, wait, they already did that back with Roe v. Wade. :mad:

um…not for nothing but the death penalty is killing too

“…the nature and extent of the punishment must be carefully evaluated and decided upon and ought not go to the extreme of executing the offender except in cases of absolute necessity: In other words, when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society. Today, however as a result of steady improvements in the organization of the penal system, such cases are very rare, if not practically non-existent.”

–Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, 1995

I voted “no.” Unless they plan to lock them up for life, then there is no way to keep children safe.

I understand your concern. But in this day of DNA evidence, that will happen less and less. But prisons seem to have their own system of justice for child offenders.

In part I agree, but in part I do not.

Think back to when the deal penalty was reserved only for premeditated murder in most jurisdictions.

Some idiot breaks into a home at night, looking to steal some stuff. Oops, someone is home, and he then shoots and kills them to not leave any witnesses.

Before the advent of aggravating factors, and attachment of crimes, and the merging of charges, the guy would not get the death penalty. He had motivation to kill the witness in order to avoid being caught.

Levying the death penalty for rape of a child will give great incentive for the rapist to kill their victim, for which they will get the death penalty anyway. But at least if they kill the victim, there is no chance the victim will report or tell anyone.

Nowadays, most states allow the death penalty for a non-premeditated murder when there are one or more aggravating factors, such as forcible rape, or armed robbery ect, are present. The fact that a murder took place during the commission of another violent crime elevates it to a new stature.

It makes no difference if you intended to kill that police officer while you were trying to fight your way out of an arrest. The fact that you committed murder on law enforcement creates an aggravating factor.

This decision states that child rape ALONE is not sufficient to merit the death penalty. The SCOTUS has repeatedly upheld aggravating factors and attachment of crimes when considering capital punishment.

Also note, three Catholic Justices unequivocally supported the death penalty, for which the Vatican has quite often said how it is extremely difficult, or impossible to justify in today’s technology age and modern prison systems

Which they are free to do. JP II’s statements on the death penalty are prudential judgements with which Catholics in good conscience are free to disagree.

It is is no way, shape, or form a magisterial teaching. The consistent teaching of the ordinary magisterium for close to 2000 years was that the death penalty can be justified for many crimes. No Pope can reverse that persistent teaching. he can only express a **personal opinion **as a bishop and theologian that current conditions do not call for imposing the death penalty.

God Bless

Tough one!

I voted I don’t know.

I’m almost always against the death penalty…but this may be the one crime that changes that.

I’m not a bible quoter (lifelong Catholic:D ) but I know there’s a line about '“woe to you who cause harm to the little ones” and something about “wishing you were never born” if you harm the innocent little ones.

They may have been wrong on this today.

They were definitely wrong cutting YET ANOTHER break to EXXON! we need a second thread for that corporate kissup

I hope so. The victim’s rights were violated by the criminal. That won’t be restored by granting the victim some special power over the justice dispensed to the defendant. If he deserves death, the victim shouldn’t be able to stop it, if he deserves a light sentence, the victim’s understandable animosity toward him shouldn’t increase the sentence.

[quote=mary bobo]If I had an evidence that a life sentence truly meant a life sentence, then I would vote yes.

[quote=wabrams]Unless they plan to lock them up for life, then there is no way to keep children safe.

I won’t claim to be a legal expert, but it would seem that the next step down from the death penalty would be life without parole.

[quote=max37]I’m almost always against the death penalty…but this may be the one crime that changes that.

The one crime? So you would oppose the death penalty for Timothy McVeigh, or Hannibal Lecter types, but favor it for a child rapist?

I said it MAY BE the one crime. That means it MAY turn out NOT to be. That’s why I voted, “don’t know”.

Maybe I’m not as quick to execute as you:confused:

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