Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Childhood's End 

Courtesy of Zemblan patriot B.K.: Although it means we must bid a fond farewell to those other valiant holdouts China, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, the Supreme Court has just dragged us kicking and screaming into the civilized world by barring the execution of children. Justice Scalia, naturally reluctant to impose his own morality on others, demurred:
The 5-4 decision throws out the death sentences of about 70 juvenile murderers and bars states from seeking to execute minors for future crimes.

The executions, the court said, violate the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

The ruling continues the court's practice of narrowing the scope of the death penalty, which justices reinstated in 1976. The court in 1988 outlawed executions for those 15 and younger when they committed their crimes. Three years ago justices banned executions of the mentally retarded.

Tuesday's ruling prevents states from making 16- and 17-year-olds eligible for execution . . . .

In a dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia disputed that there is a clear trend of declining juvenile executions to justify a growing consensus against the practice.

"The court says in so many words that what our people's laws say about the issue does not, in the last analysis, matter: 'In the end our own judgment will be brought to bear on the question of the acceptability of the death penalty,'" he wrote. "The court thus proclaims itself sole arbiter of our nation's moral standards," Scalia wrote.

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