THE SUPREME COURT ON JUVENILE EXECUTION


The U.S. Supreme Court decision (Roper v. Simmons) proscribing executions of youth 18 and under (while the issue can certainly be debated on its own merits) was an atrocious decision -- a full abandonment of constitutional law. In effect, 5 Supreme Court justices have now held that in deciding cases, the Supreme Court should adhere to "emerging national consensus," scientific evidence, and international opinion.

Kennedy, writing for the majority, wrote that "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." Clearly, he formed his opinion based on his own notion of what "ought" to be. This is not constitutional jurisprudence, but legislating his own morality for a nation. He went on to say that "It is proper that we acknowledge the overwhelming weight of international opinion against the juvenile death penalty," thereby substituting international opinion for the United States Constitution.

Since the international community is apparently against capital punishment in general (and perhaps even against life imprisonment), then our Supreme Court could easily decide to eliminate that as well. Scalia noted that "I do not believe that the meaning of our Eighth Amendment, any more than the meaning of other provisions of our Constitution, should be determined by the subjective views of five members of this court and like-minded foreigners." He went on to say, "The court thus proclaims itself sole arbiter of our nation's moral standards."

Relying on a supposed emerging national consensus not only abandons a constitutional basis for Court opinions, it begs the question of what is the national consensus. No one knows how the Court decided what that national consensus is, because no vote was taken by any legislature or by a national election, not even a poll.

This case is the absolute end of constitutional government in the United States of America. Kennedy acknowledged this fact indirectly by referring to "evolving standards of decency." Thus, what the Constitution says and originally meant is no longer valid. It is not fixed even within the short span of 16 years, because in 1989 the Court held in Stanford v. Kentucky that executing 16- and 17-year-olds was not cruel and unusual punishment.

What is even more astonishing is that by appealing to scientific evidence, neither legislative intent nor a law's plain original meaning, the majority have undermined the basis for the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision overturning state bans on abortion. Clearly, scientific evidence identifies a fetus as a human being. The Court's twisted thinking now bites itself, demanding reversal of a string of pro-abortion decisions.

Unless this decision is reversed by a new set of justices, we will slide quickly down the slope toward the Court's mercurial perception of majority rule and international opinion. The Court is not operating according to written law, and thus has abandoned the principle at the foundation of a constitutional republic. The Court has usurped the legislative branch entirely.

The Supreme Court has finally revealed its true nature -- a Legislative Court functioning above all other branches of government, and beholden only to their own ideas of what they think a majority thinks or ought to think. There is no limit on what they can presume to do.

The 5 U.S. Supreme Court justices voting in favor of this opinion should be impeached.

2005 John C. Munday
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