Jun 25 2008
Supreme Court Rejects Child Rape Death Penalty
WASHINGTON (CBS) ― The Supreme Court on Wednesday outlawed executions of people convicted of raping a child.
In a 5-4 vote, the court said the Louisiana law allowing the death penalty to be imposed in such cases 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.
There has not been an execution in the United States for a crime that did not also involve the death of the victim in 44 years.
CBS News chief legal analyst Andrew Cohen says the ruling “makes it virtually impossible now for any non-capital crime to have as its punishment the death penalty. I don’t think the Justices could have been much clearer.”
Patrick Kennedy, 43, was sentenced to death for the rape of his 8-year-old stepdaughter in Louisiana. He is one of two people in the United States, both in Louisiana, who have been condemned to death for a rape that was not also accompanied by a killing.
The Supreme Court banned executions for rape in 1977 in a case in which the victim was an adult woman. Read on