Tags: execution | child | rape

Supreme Court Upholds Ban on Execution for Child Rape

Thursday, 02 Oct 2008 02:36 PM

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WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to reconsider its June ruling that banned the death penalty for people convicted of child rape, the Court announced Wednesday.

Louisiana officials and the administration of President George W. Bush sought a new hearing for capital punishment in the case of child rape, on the basis that the Court's previous ruling failed to take into account a 2006 federal law allowing the death sentence for child rape in the military justice system.

In the June 25 ruling, which was split 5-4, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote a majority opinion that there was a "national consensus" against executing convicted rapists.

Lawyers for Louisiana appealed that "both political branches have recently and affirmatively authorized the death penalty for child rape. Such a clear expression of democratic will, at the very least, calls into question the conclusion there is a 'national consensus against' the practice."

Kennedy, along with the four justices who voted with him in the June ruling, released an amended opinion Wednesday that stated that military law for child rape "does not draw into question our conclusions that there is a consensus against the death penalty for the crime in the civilian context."

The more relevant benchmark "is federal criminal law that applies to civilians, and that law does not permit the death penalty for child rape," the justices wrote.

The original complaint came from Patrick Kennedy, 43, who was sentenced to death in 2003 for the rape of his eight-year-old daughter, the first capital case for such a crime in over 40 years.

It is rare for the Supreme Court to reopen a decided case, and would need a majority to grant the request to do so.

© 2008 Agence France Presse

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