YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Death's day in court

June 30, 2008

Re "Death penalty for child rape banned," June 26

Once again the U.S. Supreme Court has substituted its own judgment for that of state legislatures, this time in determining that the death penalty for child rape is unconstitutional.

There are no reliable indicators of a national consensus in support of the court's position, and sustaining the constitutionality of Louisiana's law would not expand the death penalty. Crimes of treason, espionage and terrorism are capital offenses. Yet the harm they cause is not greater than that caused by someone who rapes and tortures child victims.

It is the judgment of the Louisiana Legislature and other states that the worst child rapists deserve the death penalty. The court provides no cogent explanation why this legislative judgment should be overridden.

Gregory E. Givens

Redondo Beach


As a vocal opponent of the death penalty and a mother of three children, I've often been asked, "How would you feel if that rape or murder happened to your child?" It's a question that I can answer only by deeply sympathizing with all parents, family members, friends and the many who are justifiably traumatized and grieving.

Yet I commend Anthony Kennedy and the other justices who acknowledged the complexities of trials involving child rape. I also appreciate The Times for stating that this decision "contains the reach of this abhorrent punishment."

I am disappointed that Barack Obama, for whom I will likely vote, is critical of this decision. Surely he knows that states do not apply the death penalty under "narrow, limited and well-defined" circumstances that treat all accused equally. Obama apparently cannot be true to his personal convictions and past opinions for fear of appearing "soft on crime."

Those whose loved ones are victims of violent crime might garner the wisdom in Coretta Scott King's words: "Hate is too great a burden to bear. It injures the hater more than it injures the hated."

Kathleen Brown

Santa Clarita


Let me get this right. It's not "cruel and unusual" to execute someone for inflicting seconds of pain on another person by taking their life, but it is to execute someone for inflicting a lifetime of emotional pain on a child. Sometimes an "eye for an eye" isn't enough.

The court is wrong.

Joseph K. Les


Los Angeles Times Articles