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Daily Blog Buzz: Kennedy v. Louisiana

12:55 PM, Jun 26, 2008 • By SAMANTHA SAULT
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The Supreme Court made a good, constitutional decision today, say bloggers, but yesterday's Kennedy v. Louisiana was a different matter. The Court ruled that convicted child rapists cannot be executed. The case was brought by Patrick Kennedy, who brutally raped his 8-year-old stepdaughter and was sentenced to death in Louisiana. Kennedy appealed, and the Supreme Court struck down Louisiana's 1995 law authorizing the death penalty for child rapists.

At the SCOTUS Blog, Lyle Dennison writes, "As part of the Louisiana decision, the Court made it definite that no death sentence would be upheld for a crime against an individual, when the victim is not killed." Power Line's Scott Johnson concludes, "What punishment is, to use the Court's test, 'proportionate' to the offense. Putting questions of constitutional jurisprudence to one side, it would take an oaf to conclude that incarceration is punishment 'proportionate,' or death disproportionate, to the offense committed by Mr. Kennedy." The Corner's Andy McCarthy adds that the punishment is not proportional "only because we do lethal injection. If we went back to drawing-and-quartering, that might inch toward proportional."

In the opinion, Justice Kennedy concluded that rape does not compare to murder "in terms of moral depravity." At NRO's Bench Memos, Ed Whelan says that in the dissent "Alito makes mincemeat of Kennedy's claim that rape of a child cannot be compared to murder in its moral depravity and in the severity of injury to the victim and the public. Among his observations: 'I have very 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.'"

Whelan also notes that "when Kennedy declaims that '[e]volving standards of decency must embrace and express respect for the dignity of the person,' the only person whose dignity is the object of his concern is the rapist, not the victim and not other future victims." The Corner's Jonah Goldberg asks, "Are we more decent because we don't consider that a capital offense? I don't really see it."