Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Better Late Than Never

I bitch about the government so often on these pages, it's only proper to give them big ups when they do something right. It stretches belief, but this corrupt supreme court actually declared that executing children is unconstitutional.

The United States bowed to international and domestic pressure Tuesday, becoming the last country in the world officially to abolish the death penalty for offenders who were under 18 when they committed murder. The Supreme Court ruling will spare up to 70 inmates who are on death row for committing murders while aged 16 or 17, and it removes a source of friction between the United States and Europe. The European Union welcomed the decision, but said it "opposes capital punishment under all circumstances."
My favorite part:
Capital punishment still has majority support in the United States. However, this is the second significant judicial limit imposed in recent years. In 2002 the execution of convicts with learning difficulties was abolished. The decision brings the United States into line with the rest of the world. The execution of juveniles is explicitly banned in the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, which has been ratified by every country except the United States and Somalia, which has no recognized government.
I mean, the first part is horrible, that people still believe in "an eye for an eye" in this country. But, I like the part at the end. It's just us and Somalia, which has no government. What the hell is wrong with this country? How did we get to a point where we can be compared to an anarchic country run by warlords?

UPDATE: Dahlia Lithwick does a good column about the decision. And she manages to make a column about the legal system funny!
Fighting over the "evolving standards of decency" underlying the Eighth Amendment's ban on "cruel and unusual punishment," the 5-to-4 opinions reflect an all-out war between the proponents of a living (or at least medium-rare) Constitution and those who want to see it dead (or perhaps well-done, with a nice pinot).
She also finds a jaw-dropping quote from Scalia's dissenting opinion:
Is it any wonder that Scalia read his dissent from the bench this morning? Kennedy's decision was the judicial equivalent of plucking out his chest hairs, one by one. Scalia opens his 24-page dissent (joined by Rehnquist and Thomas but not by O'Connor) with the claim that Kennedy's opinion makes a "mockery" of Alexander Hamilton's assurance that the judiciary has neither "FORCE nor WILL but merely judgment." Then he assails the majority for "proclaiming itself sole arbiter of our nation's moral standards — and in the course of discharging that awesome responsibility purports to take guidance from the views of foreign courts and legislatures."
Where the hell has he been for the past four years? His best friends, Dick and George, do that every day! Didn't he read about how Bush doesn't think women deserve any rights until they stop getting all those abortions?

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