Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Supreme Court Reaffirms Ban on Death Penalty for Child Rape

Military context matters less to constitutionality of state criminal laws

Today the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a petition for rehearing in Kennedy v. Louisiana (blogged here), its decision from June 2008 holding that the death penalty for raping a child is unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishments. Reserving the question whether unique considerations might allow the military to impose punishments that would be unconstitutional in the civilian context, the majority's Statement respecting the denial of rehearing reiterated the Court's emphasis on the non-military criminal rape laws of the states and the federal government as reflecting a consensus on the impermissibility of executing someone for a crime (such as raping a child) not resulting in death.

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