SCOTUS decided today that minors may not be executed any longer. Basing its decision upon an illusory "national consensus," it said that severity of the crime no longer matters, nor does the jury's ability to weigh evidence at the punishment phase of a trial. It's a free ride, youngsters! Since the death penalty had no appreciable deterrent effect upon you before, you don't have to worry about it at all any more.
O'Connor makes the best argument, that you can't arbitrarily exclude an entire class of people from the application of the death penalty based solely upon a subjective reason. What's next? If someone made an argument that white people are traditionally less likely to resist peer pressure, or that women don't normally see themselves in a class that traditionally is punished severely for their crimes, they shouldn't have the death penalty applied to them, either?
It's ridiculous. O'Connor's right. The reason for the death penalty being so rarely applied to juveniles is not because people are loath to do it, but because juveniles so rarely engage in criminal acts of a sufficiently depraved nature to warrant its application. It's a chipping away at the basis of the death penalty by means other than the process by which such laws should be changed.
Every time the courts start acting as moral arbiters, and we allow it, we are doing nothing more than setting the stage for a ramming of the morality of the few down the throats of the morality of the many, or vice-versa.
SCOTUS shouldn't concern itself with why people do what they do. The process is there, and may be utilized by everyone, to prove mitigating factors denying the application of the death penalty in any case. For SCOTUS to step in and simply announce that a penalty that it itself has deemed to be neither cruel nor unusual no longer applies to an entire class of people. It's simply age discrimination by the highest court in the land. And it's also one of the worst examples of legislation by judicial fiat that I've seen in quite some time.
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