Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Juvenile Death Penalty, R.I.P.

Well, I guess we won't be needing this graphic anymore:

(Click to enlarge.)

"Supreme Court Forbids, 5-4, Execution in Juvenile Crime"

- Justice Anthony Kennedy (author of majority opinion):
"It is fair to say that the United States now stands alone in a world that has turned its face against the juvenile death penalty."

- Justice Antonin Scalia (dissenting opinion):
"I do not believe that the meaning of our Eighth Amendment, any more than the meaning of other provisions of our Constitution, should be determined by the subjective views of five members of this court and like-minded foreigners."

- Justice Sandra Day O'Connor (dissenting opinion):
"This nation's evolving understanding of human dignity certainly is neither wholly isolated from, nor inherently at odds with, the values prevailing in other countries."

Apparently the wiser heads on the bench took their cues from "evolving standards" and the prevailing international sentiment. Terrible controversy? No, not in this case, because I'm more comfortable with the U.S. being in line with "the rest of the world" as opposed to "Iran, China, & Co."


Anonymous said...

Where do you think these "evolving standards" will lead us in the future? It was only a few years ago that the Supreme Court passed a similar ban for mentally retarded people. Were these two decisions just a culmination of the obvious (don't put to death people who don't know what they're doing), or do you think they are part of a larger and continuing trend?

Jay said...

I'm inclined to agree with the Washington Post's reaction to this Supreme Court decision. They couldn't bring themselves to admit they were wrong before, so instead of just acknowledging that they were making the obvious decision, they threw in the part about international standards.

All in all though, I don't see foreign pressure as having a great effect on American jurisprudence. The exception is, hopefully, in cases like this where I don't mind them using "international opinion" as an excuse to do what's obviously right.