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Supreme Court refuses to review capital punishment decision

The Supreme Court Wednesday refused to reconsider its ruling banning capital punishment for the crime of raping a child, reported CNN.


In a divided decision, the five-justice majority dismissed calls to reopen the issue, reported the Los Angeles Times. They also overturned a Louisiana man’s death sentence for raping his 8-year-old stepdaughter.

Patrick Kennedy, 44, was sentenced to die in 2003 for sexually assaulting his stepdaughter, as well as causing her internal injuries that required extensive surgery, reported CNN.

The L.A. Times reported that only one person has been executed for rape in the U.S. since 1964, with the high court finally ruling in 1977 that capital punishment for rape was unconstitutional.

However, President Bush signed Executive Order 13447 in 2006 that allowed child rape as a death-eligible crime in the military justice system, reported CNN.

In response to this development, the court stated that a new footnote will be added to the decision in the case of Patrick Kennedy vs. Louisiana, reported the L.A. Times.

“In any event, authorization of the death penalty in the military sphere does not indicate that the penalty is constitutional in the civilian context,? added Justice Anthony M. Kennedy who wrote for the majority opinion, reported the L.A. Times.

Also in the majority opinion, Kennedy wrote that “evolving standards of decency? in the U.S. forbid the death penalty for any crime other than murder, reported CNN. According to Kennedy, 30 of the 36 states with the death penalty ban executing rapists.

The case of Patrick Kennedy vs. Louisiana revealed the sharp ideological divide among the court’s nine members over capital punishment.

Also to join Kennedy in the majority were Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.