It is unconstitutional to impose the death penalty for the crime of raping a child, when the victim does not die and death was not intended. the Supreme Court ruled 5-to-4 today, according to ScotusBlog. The The decision ified a Louisiana law that provided capital punishment for raping a child under age 12. The law was since amended to apply to raping a child under age 13. ScotusBlog’s Lyle Denniston says the court’s “broad declaration that death sentences should be reserved ‘for crimes that take the life of the victim’ will apply, the Court said, to crimes against individuals – thus leaving intact, for example, a possible death sentence for treason.”
“The death penalty is not a proportional punishment for the rape of a child,” wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy in the majority opinion, which was joined by the four relatively liberal justices. Justice Samuel Alito wrote the dissent, disputing the majority’s assertion that there is a national consensus against the death penalty in child rape cases. The court is likely to recess for the summer tomorrow after issuing three more rulings, including one involving Washington, D.C.’s ban on handguns.