Wednesday, June 25, 2008

US Supreme Court Strikes Down Louisiana’s “Jessica’s Law”

It was a close decision, 5 to 4, but now Louisiana’s “Jessica’s Law”, a law that demands that child predators, sexual deviants who rape children, be put to death for this offense has been overturned by the United States Supreme Court.

Louisiana's “Jessica’s Law” an extreme form of a family of laws recently passed by some states, named after Jessica Lunsford, a child that was assaulted, raped and then murdered by repeat sexual offender John Couey has been ruled unconstitutional by the Court on the grounds that it violates the “cruel and unusual punishment” provision of the US Constitution.

At issue, essentially, is whether the punishment fits the crime. Louisiana’s law provides that the assault and rape of a child is a capitol offense (where the offender incurs the death penalty). The reasoning of the law is that future offenders would be deterred from raping a child if the punishment was extreme enough. This theory, 5 justices decided, was unconstitutional. Wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy for the majority:

“The death penalty is not a proportional punishment for the rape of a child."
The extremeness of these laws was underlined in Kennedy’s majority opinion that “there has not been an execution in the United States for a crime that did not also involve the death of the victim in 44 years.”

Patrick Kennedy (no relation, I guess) was condemned to die as a result of the act of rape of his 8 year old step daughter. Another person is currently condemned to die for raping a child under this Louisiana law. While 45 states currently have a ban on laws that condemn a person to death for raping a child, 5 states do not. Texas, naturally, being among them.

Passage of HB 8 during the last legislative session assured that Texas would join this small elite group of states who have no problem passing a law that is unconstitutional on its face. In its 1972 decision, Furman v. Georgia, the Supreme Court struck down the Georgia law that allowed a jury to impose the death penalty on a rapist. A person convicted of the rape of an adult woman.

So really, Bush appointees aside, this Supreme Court decision really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Laws that demand extreme punishments like the death penalty for crimes that do not in themselves include the taking of a life, are in clear contravention of a long-held Judeo-Christian tenet of an “eye for an eye”.

And again, sanity and the rule of law were preserved by a 1 vote margin.

Are there any fair-minded people out there who DON’T think that the defeat of John McCain this November is Priority One? Think of what our country, and our Supreme Court, will be like with John McCain as President for a mere 4 years.

I think people have thought about it, or will think about it at some point in the next 4 plus months. And that’s why I am beginning to think that this presidential race will be a rout. It will be a landslide for Democrats because people have or are going to have trouble living with the alternative.

Frankly, I think there are better reasons to vote for Barack Obama and turn away McCain. Our Democratic candidate is correct on the issues, and is not just the lesser of two evils. But if someone is going to vote for Obama because they fear what McCain will do if he had 4 years in the presidency, that’s cool.

As the Republicans said in 2000: A win’s a win.

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