While one can argue about the recent Supreme Court decision regarding access to American civilian courts for enemy combatants, I’m not sure how one can explain the logic behind the decision to overturn the death penalty for child rapists.
The majority claims that it has based its’ ruling on society’s “evolving standards of decency.” They must do so because of past decisions in which they have limited the death penalty in other ways. Clearly, the writers of the Constitution allowed for much more leniency in the death penalty so they are left with justifying the decision on a sliding scale of societal standards.
But as AP points out at HotAir, if the court really wants to use society’s current standard or some adjusting scale would they not actually allow society to express their wishes through things like the Louisiana law. What they actual do through their ruling is establish an immobile standard that cannot adjust with popular opinion. But is it really the job of the court to gauge public opinion when making a court ruling, even if that was the case they didn’t do it this time.
That’s the real point. It is not the personal opinion of the majority of Americans. It is simply the personal opinion of the majority of justices sitting on the Supreme Court.
It also was not the opinion of Justice Samuel Alito:
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
… I have no doubt
that, under the prevailing standards of our society, robbery, the crime
that the petitioner in Enmund intended to commit, 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
Kennedy and the other’s ruling is completely illogical on its face. They argue that the death penalty is only applicable to those who take life. If you commit murder, you can be killed. So does the same argument apply to rape? If you commit rape, can you be raped?
According to the "logic" in the ruling, rape of a child is not up to the level of depravity as killing someone. Should it not follow that raping an inmate is less than taking their life therefore an acceptable level of punishment?
Of course, I don’t believe that prisoners should be raped, but when the Supreme Court creates contorted rulings that refute themselves and contradict earlier rulings it is hard to keep straight exactly what is acceptable in “evolving standards of decency.”