Pedophile Rapists win big at the Supreme Court
Today the United States Supreme Court issued the long awaited decision in the Kennedy v. Louisiana death penalty case discussed earlier this year. The Court held that the Eighth Amendment bars Louisiana from imposing the death penalty for the rape of a child where the crime did not result, and was not intended to result, in the victim’s death.
In a 5-4 decision written by Justice Kennedy, the Court found that there is a “national consensus against capital punishment for the crime of child rape” and that “the small number of States that have enacted the death penalty for child rape is relevant to determining whether there is a consensus against capital punishment for the rape of a child.”
The Court concluded that “there is a distinction between intentional first-degree murder on the one hand and nonhomicide crimes against individuals, even including child rape, on the other. The latter crimes may be devastating in their harm, as here, but 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.”
In homage to the criminal apologist National Association of Social Workers [NASW] amicus brief, the Court found that “as to deterrence, the evidence suggests that the death penalty may not result in more effective enforcement, but may add to the risk of nonreporting of child rape out of fear of negative consequences for the perpetrator, especially if he is a family member. And, by in effect making the punishment for child rape and murder equivalent, a State may remove a strong incentive for the rapist not to kill his victim.”
Justice Alito, in mock restraint, began the dissenting opinion with: “the Court today holds that the Eighth Amendment categorically prohibits the imposition of the death penalty for the crime of raping a child. This is so, according to the Court, no matter how young the child, no matter how many times the child is raped, no matter how many children the perpetrator rapes, no matter how sadistic the crime, no matter how much physical or psychological trauma is inflicted, and no matter how heinous the perpetrator’s prior criminal record may be.”
The dissent found that “the Court has provided no coherent explanation for today’s decision” in its “emerging national consensus” analysis. As to the majority’s “own judgment” regarding the acceptability of the death penalty, the dissent argued that most of that discussion is not pertinent to the Eighth Amendment question at hand:
A major theme of the Court’s opinion is that permitting the death penalty in child-rape cases is not in the best interests of the victims of these crimes and society at large. In this vein, the Court suggests that it is more painful for child-rape victims to testify when the prosecution is seeking the death penalty. The Court also argues that “a State that punishes child rape by death may remove a strong incentive for the rapist not to kill the victim,” and may discourage the reporting of child rape. These policy arguments, whatever their merits, are simply not pertinent to the question whether the death penalty is “cruel and unusual” punishment.
The dissent sums up its position, and in my opinion the core of this debate, by asking this essential question:
With respect to the question of moral depravity, is it really true that every person who is convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death is more morally depraved than every child rapist? Consider the following two cases. In the first, a defendant robs a convenience store and watches as his accomplice shoots the store owner. The defendant acts recklessly, but was not the triggerman and did not intend the killing. In the second case, a previously convicted child rapist kidnaps, repeatedly rapes, and tortures multiple child victims. Is it clear that the first defendant is more morally depraved than the second?
I have no doubt that, under the prevailing standards of our society, robbery . . . does not evidence the same degree of moral depravity as the brutal rape of a young child. Indeed, I have little doubt that, in the eyes of ordinary Americans, the very worst child rapists–predators who seek out and inflict serious physical and emotional injury on defenseless young children–are the epitome of moral depravity.
In terms of moral depravity, I can imagine no worse a crime then the rape of a child. In fact, the rape of children is increasingly primarily for the production of child pornography. The lifelong impact of the actual rape, combined with the increasingly highly sought worldwide distribution of pictures and movies of the rape, make this crime like no other.