July 30, 2009

Crapo Criticizes Ruling On Rape Cases

Says Supreme Court erred in death penalty ruling in case involving child

Washington, DC - Idaho Senator Mike Crapo is seeking to put the U.S. Senate on record opposing a recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on the constitutionality of the death penalty in the case of child rape. Crapo joined with eight Senate colleagues to introduce S. Res. 626, a Sense of the Senate Resolution that criticizes the Court's ruling in a Louisiana case where a man, convicted of brutally raping his eight-year old stepdaughter, was sentenced to death.

In a 5 to 4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court cited the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution last month in ruling the death penalty unconstitutional in the case of child rape, calling it a "cruel and unusual punishment" for the crime. It was the first time the Court held that the death penalty for child rape was unconstitutional, and it overturns a ruling by the Louisiana Supreme Court.

"Notwithstanding the fact that the rape of a child is sadistic and utterly morally reprehensible, consigning the victim to extreme physical and emotional trauma that often lasts a lifetime, the Court's determination that this horrific crime never can be deserving of the death penalty under the arbitrary construct of an 'evolving standards of decency' and 'national consensus' interpretation of the Eighth Amendment has no foundation in the interpretation of the United States Constitution," said Crapo.

"Two years ago, the death penalty for child rapists was authorized by federal law and six states and the U.S. military have adopted this penalty for this crime. It's clear that, under the plain and ordinary, and original meaning of the eighth amendment, the death penalty is permissible as a punishment for the rape of a child. The Majority has held that no matter how often a perpetrator rapes a child, or how 'sadistic' or how much 'physical or psychological trauma is inflicted,' it is unconstitutional to pursue the death penalty. I agree with Justice Samuel Alito in his dissenting opinion when he talks about the Court's determination that murder is unique in its 'moral depravity and the severity of the injury it inflicts on the victim and the public.' Justice Alito says, 'I have little doubt that, in the eyes of ordinary Americans, the very worst child rapists-predators who seek out and inflict serious physical and emotional injury on defenseless young children-are the epitome of moral depravity," he added.

Supreme Court Justice Alito also observed in his dissent that the Court's ruling against the death penalty was too broad and could prohibit state governments from authorizing the death penalty in child rape cases no matter how young the victim is, how many times the crime occurred, or if other victims were involved.

The other sponsors of the resolution are Senators David Vitter (R-Louisiana), Richard Burr (R-North Carolina), Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina), Elizabeth Dole (R-North Carolina), Jon Kyl (R-Arizona), and Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama).