op ed in The State Newspaper

Death penalty ruling turns court into legislature


The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on June 25 that the imposition of the death penalty upon individuals who rape children is “cruel and unusual punishment.” The 5-4 decision initially stuns regular folks who cannot understand why the death penalty would apply to someone who shoots a person versus someone who uses an innocent child for sexual prey.

In 2006, the S.C. General Assembly stood up for children when it passed legislation providing for the death penalty in cases where someone rapes a child. I lead the fight to include the death penalty in South Carolina’s version of Jessica’s Law, then making its way through the General Assembly. I view no moment of my service in Columbia with more significance than the day we won that vote.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, the author of the latest opinion, rationalizes the rape of a child as a lesser offense by saying that, “‘in terms of moral depravity and of the injury to the person and to the public,’ they cannot compare to murder in their ‘severity and irrevocability.’”

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