Carol Platt Liebau

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Here are excerpts from today's Supreme Court decision striking down the death penalty for those under 18.

The decision is another illustration -- if any were needed -- about the dangers of an out-of-control judiciary. Whatever you think of the death penalty being applied to juveniles -- and people of good conscience can disagree -- it is wrong for this decision to be made by the Court.

There is very little dispute that the death penalty is constitutional. If that is so, then deciding to whom it applies -- those over 80? those under 18? -- is a purely legislative issue. That's because it has to do with "line drawing" that is dictated by moral and ethical considerations. Such considerations are best weighed and balanced, not by an unelected judiciary sitting as an unaccountable 9-person super-legislature, but by the people's representatives -- the nearest thing to the "voice of the people" (and it is "the people," after all, not a black-robed oligarchy)who are supposed to be calling the shots in a democratic society.

Note also that Anthony Kennedy, writing for the 5-person majority, invokes international law and norms. In the process, he ignores the 20-odd states that allow execution of juveniles. Since when did international law have more to say about what happens in America than America's own states?

A sad precedent . . . and a frightening one.


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