The Supreme Court ruled
today on the Constitutionality of imposing the death penalty on juveniles. Fortunately, although I had feared it would be otherwise, this time they actually got it right, banning the imposition of the death penalty for crimes committed by minors:
"The age of 18 is the point where society draws the line for many purposes between childhood and adulthood. It is, we conclude, the age at which the line for death eligibility ought to rest," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote.
Personally, I don't understand why this issue should be in dispute or how even death penalty advocates could support the death penalty for minors, much less why the Court's vote would be so close (5-4). Even before my conservativism became more libertarian in nature, leading me to seriously question my previous support for the death penalty, I was always strongly opposed to imposing the death penalty on minors. Yes, 18 is a somewhat arbitrary age, but it's the age our society has chosen at which full rights and responsibilities of adulthood--other than drinking alcohol (but that's a topic for another post)--are granted and expected. As such, it is also a reasonable cutoff for death penalty eligibility. The only thing that bothers me about the ruling is the Court's invocation of international standards. It shouldn't have needed to do that. Defining the execution of children as "cruel and unusual punishment" under the Eighth Amendment should have sufficed.