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July 21, 2008

Louisiana Files for Rehearing in Kennedy v. Louisiana

It would take a majority vote for the Supreme Court to reconsider the case which blatantly misconstrued public opinion about the death penalty for child rapists and which failed to discover a federal law imposing such a penalty. It is extremely rare for the Court to do so. Louisiana's petition is here (PDF).

We discussed the likelihood of a rehearing a few weeks ago. I continue to believe that the justices need to grant this petition---even if they know they're going to come to the same decision---if only to straighten out the horrendous reasoning in the majority opinion. Justice Kennedy's claims about "national consensus" and "the Court's own judgment" make a farce out of our entire system of justice. Even if he's too set in his thinking to overturn such ridiculous Eighth Amendment standards, certainly he can do a more credible job supporting his conclusions.

Since the case was handed down, there have been a few public opinion polls on the subject. This one is noteworthy because it shows majority public support for a harsher penalty than the one the Court invalidated.

The Supreme Court has recently ruled that a mandatory death penalty for child rape is unconstitutional. Do you favor or oppose the death penalty for persons convicted of child rape?

Favor: 55 percent
Oppose: 38 percent
DK/NO: 7 percent

I would have preferred that they have stated the law correctly (hint: no crimes are punishable by mandatory death sentences in this country and Louisiana's statute sure didn't create one), but it is telling that even with the overstatement a clear majority support the death penalty for child rape. If you're interested, the poll also has numbers on same-sex marriage, abortion, the Supreme Court in general, and Chief Justice Roberts in particular.

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posted by Gabriel Malor at 08:04 PM

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