Jun 30, 2008
The Supreme Court just threw out a Louisiana statute calling for the death penalty for the crime of raping a child.
In so doing, the justices declared in the majority opinion that the death penalty should be reserved “for crimes that take the life of the victim.”
The court based its interpretation on a constitutional ruling about the Eighth Amendment. That ruling said laws are interpreted according to “the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society.”
By those standards, the United States is clearly not progressing toward standards of decency. If this country were evolving as a “maturing society,” it would have eliminated capital punishment altogether. Most countries, and particularly the industrialized ones, abolished the death penalty years and years ago. Even within the U.S. the death penalty was banned by some states, like the state of Michigan in 1848 – that is, 160 years ago.
The death penalty is a throwback to the old desert tribal societies of six thousand years ago. “An eye for an eye,” the code of revenge – which is what the justices were referring to – is the reflection of a society existing on the edge of savagery.
Today, the use of the death penalty is only one more proof of the lack of decency in and the backwardness of the U.S. judicial system.