The Wash Post reports on a death-penalty case the Supreme Court will hear later this week:
"The 'evolving standards of decency' framework is not a one-way street that may lead only towards the elimination of the death penalty," the state of Texas argues in a brief joined by eight other states. "Each state's legislature should be allowed to…reflect its citizens' current moral judgment regarding the just deserts for certain capital crimes."
Of the 3,300 inmates on death row across the country, only two are there for a crime other than murder. Both were convicted under Louisiana's child rape statute, passed in 1995 and still the broadest in the land.
Those facts alone are a powerful argument that executing someone for rape would violate the Eighth Amendment prohibition against "cruel and unusual punishment," argue lawyers for Louisiana death row inmate Patrick Kennedy. The 43-year-old Kennedy was convicted of raping his 8-year-old stepdaughter in 1998 in an assault so brutal that the girl required surgery.
But Jeffrey L. Fisher, a Stanford University law professor who will argue Kennedy's case, said no matter how heinous the crime, the court decided in 1977's Coker v. Georgia— its last previous ruling on the limits of capital punishment—that rape is not subject to the ultimate penalty.
Justice Byron R. White wrote for the court: "We have the abiding conviction that the death penalty, which is unique in its severity and irrevocability, is an excessive penalty for the rapist who, as such, does not take human life."
I'm against the death penalty because I don't think the state should have the power to execute. I think the state's role is to protect its population and it should do that using as little violence as possible.
But how do Hit & Run readers feel about the death penalty, in the above case and others?
reason on capital punishment here.